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St. Wilfrto's, 
Feast of our Blessed Lady's Expectation, 
m. d. ccc. xlvii. 






The favourable receptioii which this Series of 
the Lives of the Saints has met with, the exten- 
sive sale, especiallj among our Protestant fellow- 
countrymen, and, so far as we have seen, the 
uniformlj kind favour and indulgent encourage- 
ment shown to it by the Catholic press, both of 
England and America, may perhaps warrant the 
Editors in venturing a few observations, which 
would have been premature and out of place 
before, but have now become due to the continu- 
ed indulgence of our readers. There are many 
things which may appear to need some little 
apology ; not only the irregularity of the pub- 
lication of the early volumes,, but also the 
choice of Lives first put before the public, 
occasional instances of slovenly translation, un- 
gainly expressions, apparently uncatholic from 


a too literal adherence to the original, and 
here and there phrases which in the Catholic 
language of a Catholic country are easily intelli- 
gible, but which may at first sight appear want- 
ing in controversial accuracy. These it is hoped 
have been already overlooked by our readers; 
the difficulty of managing so extensive an under- 
taking, the uncertain coming in of manuscript, 
and some other private disadvantages, often 
leave the Editors hardly their own masters ; but 
all which are much less likely to be felt in the 
succeeding volumes. But there are matters of 
more importance than this : the very title of the 
Series and the provisions of the Prospectus natu- 
rally raise questions in the minds of many of 
our good Protestant readers, and perhaps of Ca- 
tholic laymen as well, which deserve both an 
answer and a settlement, and upon which Protes- 
tants may be glad to have some little informa- 
tion, and be willing to take it not in spirit of 
controversy, but simply of information drawn 
from sources which do not generally fall in the 
line of their reading. It is of these, if we may 
do so without presumption, that we wish to say 
something at present ; and the tone of generous 
admiration and ardent sympathy, with which 
many of the sons of modem Rome, such as St. 
Charles Borromeo, St. Francis Xavier, St. Francis 
of Sales, St. Vincent of Paul, and others, are al- 
most invariably spoken of by English writers, 
warrant us in supposing that the information con- 
tained in the following pages will not be unaccep- 
table to our readers. What is canonization ? How 


is it done ? What does it import to a Catholic ? 
How does it differ from beatification? What is 
meant by the title of Venerable, and by the 
Holy See decreeing that a man has practised 
virtue in an heroic degree ? What is the amount 
of authority attaching to each of these acts of 
the Church, and in what sense are they acts of 
the Church? What sort of obligation, if any, 
do they lay CathoKcs under? What sort of 
value, considered simply as questions of evidence, 
have they to others ? And what sanction, if any, 
do the biographies of the saints borrow from the 
fact, that the Church has made their cultus mat- 
ter of precept or permission? And what sort 
of authority do the peculiar formation and jea- 
lous scrutiny of the processes ^ve them, simply 
as human testimony judicially sifbed? Some- 
thing like an answer to these questions will be 
attempted in the following pages. 

There is hardly any study, and certainly no 
kind of spiritual reading, which calls for more 
cautious jealousy and scholar-like discretion than 
the Lives of the Saints ; and if it be actually 
impossible in any particular instance to avoid 
erring in one of two extremes, it is better to 
be too backward than too forward in the matter 
before us. When we pass the boundaries of 
ordinary life and enter a land of marvels and of 
strange actions, we must remember that we are 
on the very ground where delusion and coun- 
terfeit work is to be looked for, and we must 
be careful not to let either general enthusiasm 
or a particular devotion to a favourite saint, or a 


natural tendency to give in to the spirit and 
genius of romance, allure us for one instant from 
the analogy of the faith. It is a comparatively 
trifling mistake to deal out too scanty an allow- 
ance of belief to the miraculous gifts with which 
Almighty (Jod may have favoured one of His 
chosen servants and vessels of election ; but to 
be beguiled into false devotions or immoderate 
feelings, to confound the possible with the pro- 
bable, the probable with the certain, and even 
the certain with what is matter of faith, is a 
far more serious affair, essentially injurious to 
our best spiritual interests, and yet which very 
easily comes of confounding the admirable with 
the imitable in the Lives of the Saints. Indis- 
creet corporal penances, peculiar observances of 
interior mortification breeding scruples because 
unsuited to us, a morbid hankering after rap- 
tures, ecstasies, and other supernatural gifts, a 
conceited fancy (perhaps one of the most pe- 
rilous of delusions) that we are being raised to 
the higher degrees of mental prayer, affected sin- 
gularities in good works, disregard and dises- 
teem of our director, as though he misunderstood 
what God is doing in our souls — these are some 
of the errors into which an undisceming study 
of the Lives of the Saints has led and may lead ; 
and the simple enumeration of them is a suffi- 
cient condemnation. What has happened in 
Catholic countries may occur, though it be less 
likely, even were the cold atmosphere of circum- 
ambient heresy does so much to chill any 
thing like devotional excess. 


But as corruptio optimi est pessima, so the 
very number and danger of the errors into which 
hagiology may lead, will give us some idea of the 
value of it as a means of spiritual advancement, 
and of the consequent dread of it felt by the 
spirits of evil. That which cannot be abused is 
good for nothing, said the acute Niebuhr of his 
own bold canons for interpreting the legends of 
primitive history; and it would argue a great 
want of moderation as well as of discriminating 
judgment, to set aside the study of Saints' Lives 
altogether, because of the dangers into which an 
ill-guided and incautious imitation might lead. 
An intolerant impatience in trying to dispense 
with what lays us under the troublesome obliga- 
tions of calmness, prudence, and discretion is gen- 
erally a symptom of rash judgment, of prejudice 
greatly to be distrusted, and of an irritable impe- 
tuosity which would be very unbecoming in one 
who should put forward his opinion for others 
to follow, or who should venture to wield the 
weapons of spiritual direction. We should be- 
ware as much of this unsafe precipitation as of 
a blind unintelligent credulity, or an imperious 
desire to force others to believe and like as 
much as we may happen to believe and like 

All the Saints and spiritual writers have 
agreed in no one point so signally as in recom- 
mending the perusal of Saints' biographies. 
The Lives of the Saints, "the Gospel in prac- 
tice " as he called them, were the constant study 
of the Blessed Liguori during the period of his 


conversion, at the time when he left the bar 
and vowed to be an Oratorian. To the Lives 
of the Saints read npon his sick bed bj the 
wonnded Ignatius, the Church owes through 
the mercy of God the conversion of that won- 
derful man, and the incalculable fruits of his 
conversion in the labours of his glorious and 
persecuted societj. The story which St, Augus- 
tine tells us in his Confessions of the two cour- 
tiers of Theodosius, converted all at once by the 
marvellous Life of St. Anthony, is too well known 
to be repeated here ; and we read* of the Blessed 
John Colombino, that he led a worldly, covetous, 
and irreligious life, but that one day, as his 
quaint old chronicler describes it, he went home 
from the warehouse more hungry than usual; 
and because his dinner was a little delayed, he 
got out of temper and abused both his wife and 
servant, saying he was in a hurry to go back 
to his counting-house. "You have too much 
money, and spend too little, John," said his wife; 
"why are you putting yourseK out in this way? 
While I am getting things ready, take this book 
and read a Itttle ; " so saying, she gave him a 
volume containing some Lives of Saints. Giovan- 
ni, somewhat nettled, took the book and threw it 
into the middle of the room, saying, " You think 
of nothing but legends ; I have the warehouse to 
go to." Presently however his conscience be- 
gan to prick him; he took the book from the 
ground, and opening it, lighted upon the Life of 

* Vita per Feo Belcari. c. ii. 


St. Mary of Egypt. Shortly afterwards his wife 
called him to dinner: "Wait awhile," replied 
Giovanni, forgetting his hunger ; and on he went. 
The legend was long, but, as his old biographer 
observes, there was a celestial melody in it: time 
sped ; his wife looked at him ; Giovanni was still 
reading, and what was more, grace was working. 
There was conversion in the legend of the peni- 
tent of Egypt; the story softened his heart; it 
was his thought by day, and his dream by night ; 
the churlish Giovanni began to give alms, and 
always just double of what was asked of him ; 
and to that reading was owing the outburst of 
the love of God which the Blessed Giovanni 
spread with his "poor sheep of Jesus,*' the 
Gesuati, from one end of Italy to the other, from 
the Pope at Viterbo down to the swineherd of 

It would be endless to multiply instances where 
grace has worked through the study of the Lives 
of Saints. Probably there are few of our rea- 
ders who have not experienced it themselves. 
Let us content ourselves by casting a glance at 
the last day of the Blessed St. Philip Neri's Life, 
for he, if any one, can give us safe instruction 
in the matter. On the morning of Corpus 
Christi, the day on which God so suddenly took 
him to his reward, when the holy father had 
heard the confession of his favourite Francesca 
della Molara, he said to him, "Francesco, re- 
member that for the future you always come to 
the Oratory to hear the sermons, and do not 
forget to read spiritual books, especially the 


Lives of the Saints,** Aware of his approaching 
end, he gave his penitents that morning spiri- 
tual instructions, with an unusual tenderness 
mingled with solemnitj ; and he was particularly 
urgent about three things, the frequentation of 
the Sacraments, the attending sermons, and the 
reading Lives of the Saints. After he had said 
vespers and compline, he spent the afternoon 
partly in receiving visits, and partly in hearing 
the Lives of Saints read to him, and he had the 
Life of San Bernardino of Sienna, that eloquent 
lover of Mary, read to him twice over. Such 
were the practice and council of a Saint just as 
he himself was about to enter into glory. 

Indeed, to discard ourselves or discourage in 
others the reading the Lives of Saints, would ap- 
parently betoken some disrespect to the Church ; 
for by even the lowest of her sanctions, such as 
the steps preparatory to the signatura commis- 
sionis, she at least calls the attention of her chil- 
dren to the holy men upon whose lives apostolical 
processes have been or are about to be formed, or 
who by the custom of the Congregation of Rites 
are entitled to the name of Venerable ; and by 
the decree of canonization the cultus of the 
Saint permitted in beatification, is made of precept 
to the Universal Church. These clearly are the 
models she puts before us to admire and imitate ; 
these alone of our fellow exiles in this vale 
of tears, does she authoritatively pronounce to 
be now enjoying the Beatific Vision; these are 
the marked followers of the Lamb, whom the 
Church calls by name that we may know them 


and copy their virtues as well as venerate their 
relics ; and it is worth observing, that hardly 
ever are mass and office granted to the name- 
less martyrs or ''sancti baptizati/' whose bodies 
are extracted from the catacombs, so strongly 
does the idea of imitation come out in all that 
regards the cultus of the Saints. The prac^ 
tice and advices of the Saints themselves, re- 
corded facts, the finger of the Church, the uni- 
versal teaching of spiritual writers, all unite in 
pointing out the study of Saints' Lives as a great 
means of grace and an almost necessary help to 
advancement in virtue. 

We must not however forget the distinction 
between what is admirable and what is imitable 
in these records of sanctity ; for to lose sight 
of this distinction would be most dangerous. 
"Read the Histories and Lives of the Saints, '» 
says St. Francis of Sales in his Introduction to 
a Devout Life*, "in which, as in a looMng- 
glass, you may behold the portraiture of a Chris- 
tian life, and accommodafb their actions to your 
state of life ; for, although several actions of 
the saints cannot absolutely be imitated by such 
as live in the midst of the world, yet they may 
be in some degree followed: for example, you 
may imitate the solitude of St. Paul, the first 
hermit, in your spiritual and real retirements; 
and the extreme poverty of St. Francis by the 
practices of poverty ; and so of the rest. It is 
true, there are some of their Histories that give 

• Pt. U. xvH. 8, 4. 


more light for tho conduct of our lives than 
others, such as the Life of the Blessed Mother 
Theresa, the Lives of the first Jesuits, that of St. 
Charles Borromeo, St. Louis, St. Bernard, the 
Chronicles of St. Francis and several others. 
There are others again which contain more 
matter of admiration than imitation ; as the 
Life of St. Mary of Egypt, of St. Simeon Sty- 
lites, and the two St. Catherines of Sienna 
and Genoa, of St. Angela, and such like ; which 
nevertheless Jail not in general to give us a great 
relish for the love of GodJ* This is a very re- 
markable passage to come from such a writer 
as St. Francis, and illustrates very well the prac- 
tical turn of his mind. He would have even 
the extraordinary actions of the saints, such as 
the utter solitude of Paul, and the utter pover- 
ty of Francis, copied by us in our measure and 
by accommodation ; and few perhaps less versed 
in spiritual direction, would have mentioned the 
Chronicles of St. Francis as among the imita- 
ble biographies. Indeed the extreme difficulty 
of drawing the line between the lives imitable 
and lives admirable is very significant. Father 
Quadrupani, the Barnabite, good-humouredly 
laughing at ambitious beginners who envy St. 
Joseph of Cupertino his marvellous fiights in the 
air, lays great stress on the same distinction, 
and gives the same advice in his beautiful Doc- 
uments for tranquillising the scrupulous ;* yet 
^ven the Life of St. Mary of Egypt, ranked by 

* xiii. Lettura Spirituale. 3. 


St. Francis among the admirable rather than 
the imitable lives, was the frequent study of the 
wise and practical St. Philip Neri, and as we 
have just seen, was the means of the Blessed 
Colombino's conversion from the niggard world- 
liness of a hard-hearted tradesman. 

We must therefore, while giving scope to a 
right and proper caution and criticism, repress 
with equal jealousy imprudent fears, uncritical 
censures, and cold suspicions. We must take 
the middle road of kindly and intelligent mod- 
eration, and endeavour to ascertain for ourselves 
safe canons by the aid of which we shall be en- 
abled to maintain this middle ground against 
both coldness and credulity. We all know too 
well the numbing effect which the pestilential 
air of heresy is likely to have upon us ; no one 
who has resided for a while in a Catholic coun- 
try, but feels and fears the danger when he re- 
turns homo. It is therefore quite possible that 
we may become in some little measure tainted 
by the spirit of unbelief which is around us; 
we may look at things rather too much as our 
neighbours look at them, and without being aware 
of it ourselves. Without our faith being touch- 
ed, our tone of mind and spirit of devotion may 
be somewhat injured by being lowered ; and our 
best security against this is a humble acknow- 
ledgement of its possibility. The danger is in- 
deed becoming every day less and less, because 
of the abatement of prejudice which there is on 
every side, and because of the much more pa- 
tient and kindly spirit which the religious ear. 


nestness of those who differ from us causes them 
to exhibit towards us, our doctrines, and our 
rites. Where there is so much less readiness 
to suspect evil and so much more willingness to 
grant a fair and reasonable hearing, we are un- 
der less temptation to withhold a more simple, 
natural, full, and genuine expression of our sen- 
timents, unchecked bj a continual dread of ill- 
natured misinterpretation. Still it may be well 
for us to see what this temper might come to, 
if indulged ; the picture is happily an imagina- 
ry one, for the gift of faith and the grace of the 
Sacraments stay the plague at every turn. Ne- 
vertheless it may be profitable to see what prin- 
ciples, which an unwary son of the church might 
give a lodging to in his mind, would soon pro- 
duce if they could obtain an unhindered de- 
velopement for themselves. If we get a clear 
idea of this, it will throw no little light upon 
the questions which remain for our future con- 

It must of course be an object of the utmost 
importance to every loving son of the Church, to 
have, not his understanding only, but his feel- 
ings, taste, and devotional yearnings in harmony 
with the genius and temper of his spiritual 
Mother. Indeed, without this it seems impos- 
sible for a man to achieve anything great for his 
neighbour, or to advance himself in the path 
of Christian perfection. Short of heresy, at 
more or less remote distances from it in differ- 
ent cases, we are all liable to a cold, dry, hard, 
doubting temper, which is always standing on 


the defensive as though it was going to be rob- 
bed of some portion of its power of disbelieving, 
as though more were about to be exacted from 
it in the waj of credulity than is absolutely ne- 
cessary for salvation. This temper is most in- 
jurious to true piety, and most dangerous to the 
soul, as may be readily perceived if men will 
only reflect how very far removed it is from the 
disposition of a child, the model which our Re- 
deemer puts before us in the Gospel. But per- 
sons of this turn of mind, if they gave in to it, 
would never be content with keeping their own 
little treasure of faith safely under lock and 
key; they would become strongly impressed 
with the idea, that they have a mission to pre- 
vent others from believing one atom more than 
they believe themselves; the whole world in 
their view would be running headlong into su- 
perstition, and they called on by a duty wholly 
3elf-imposed to arrest this universal deluge of 
credulity. It would actually fret them to see 
any one else believing, and visibly enjoying the 
belief, of what is not positively and penally de 
fide. Outside the Church this temper is Pro- 
testantism, graduating down almost to naked 
unbelief; inside the Church it would be the 
same disease stripped of its fatal power, like 
smallpox by the charm of vaccination. The 
grace of the Sacraments and Communion with 
the body of Christ divest it of its malignant effi- 
cacy, and leave it simply as a weakening and 
disastrous affliction of the soul. The spiritual 
danger of thus "making a shrew of the Church/' 


as the Anglican Laud somewhat quaintly words 
it, was most clearly perceived by the holy patri- 
arch Ignatius, and led him to append to his 
Book of Spiritual Exercises those eighteen rules. 
Ad sentiendum cum ecclesia, whereby a man 
might keep himself in an orthodox humour^ so to 
speak, as well as in the orthodox faith. There 
is perhaps no part of that marvellous little book 
in which the Saint's supernatural gift of discern- 
ment is more visible than in those eighteen pithy 
rules ; and this may be seen from the fact, that 
no imitation of Catholic doctrine and ritual out- 
side the Church, although it might be put in 
apparent harmony with formal statements of 
doctrine, could be tortured into such a shape as 
would fit these rules, and this has been known 
to have been in one instance a source of unea- 
siness leading ultimately to conversion. 

Now it is clear that there are in the Catholic 
Church, independent of the dogmas which are 
actually de fide, and which a man must receive 
or become formally heretical, a great number 
of important doctrines which are so true, that 
it is a moot point among Catholic doctors whe- 
ther they are not de fide, a number which are 
prozimsB fidei, a number which are certain be- 
cause de fide ecclesiastica, as it is called, many 
which are commonly received, many which find 
place in the offices of the Church, many which 
are "pious," many which the greater number of 
Saints held, many to which, expressed in cer- 
tain devotions, the Church accords liberal indul- 
gences, many which are symbolized in certain 


ritual acts authorized bj the Church, manj 
which form the groundwork of approved customs 
in religious orders, many the denial of which 
has been stigmatized by universities and theolo- 
gians, as scandalous and temerarious, and sa- 
vouring of heresy. Now how could a man be 
considered in harmony with the Church, sup- 
posing he rejected all or many of these things ? 
Must he not be forfeiting no little portion of 
religious truth? Must he not be allowing no 
little of the spirit of the Church to escape him? 
Must he not be guilty of as monstrous an act 
of private judgment as a man can commit short 
of actual overleaping the limits of formal here- 
sy? We hear of holy men who by throwing 
themselves heart and soul, like children, into 
the system of the Church, acquired such an 
instinct for true doctrine, that they could reject 
subtle errors when propounded to them, even 
though they had no knowledge of dogmatic 
theology. But it is indeed most true that there 
may be implicit false doctrine as well as explicit 
heresy, or, in other words, that there may be 
material heresy, which the goodness of God pre- 
vents from becoming formal ; and this slow- 
heartedness to believe, while it arrays a false 
and illegitimate discretion against all that is 
generous and ennobling in the temper of faith, 
may run into material heresy much sooner than 
people are aware. Men have a great itching to 
to obtain the reputation of being safe, and to 
be slow always looks like being safe, and as the 
eye of the multitude does not go deeper than 


the look, this character is very cheaply acquired. 
Few have any intelligible and internally recog- 
nized principles by which they moderate the 
judgments of their understanding ; in most cases 
they merely aim at a point which seems toler- 
ably equidistant from two extremes, as if truth 
resided in a fixed and material meali; in this 
process possible and probable truths, possible and 
probable aids to devotion, possible and probable 
gifts of God may be sacrificed; but where the 
conscience does not take pains to pay an habit- 
ual homage to truth for its own sake, it is as« 
tonishing how blunt the perception of the value 
of these things becomes. Catholics who are in 
the habit of practising meditation, however loud- 
ly they may be accused of superstitious tenden- 
cies, are in reality not only quite as accurate 
as others, but even more accurate, in distin- 
guishing between what is actually necessary to 
be believed and what is not ; witness the con- 
tinual bandying about of the words heretic and 
heresy among others, and the comparatively rare 
use of them among Catholics, as applied at least 
to differences of opinion one with another. Cath- 
olics take much pains to ascertain the exact 
degree of authority and probability attaching to 
each sacred doctrine or pious opinion, because 
all truth countenanced by the Church is to them 
a solemn thing, from God, and of unknown im- 
port to their souls. Charity also would fain be 
saved the pain of condemnation when and where 
she can. Thoughtful people must see that the 
Church's gift of infallibility affects in a certain 


way and to a certain amount all the permitted 
or favoured doctrines which she allows or en- 
courages her children to embrace ; just as if 
St. Peter or St. Paul had given anj uninspired 
counsels to their penitents, they would not be 
quite like the counsels of a common Saint, 
although they might not be inspired ; and this 
holds without at all meaning to establish any 
parity between inspiration and infallibility. Men 
have their souls to save, and they are never in 
so sure a way as when they are in childlike 
agreement and harmony, not with the de fide 
definitions alone (although that is the essential 
point) but with the current doctrines, pious opin- 
ions, encouraged usages, indulgenced devotions, 
and significant ritual of Mother Church. 

All this applies very strongly to the study of 
the Lives of the canonized Saints, and to the 
degree of influence which it is safe and well to 
let those lives have over our doctrinal opinions 
and ascetic practices. It is then of no little im- 
portance that we should know what amount of 
authority the decrees of canonization possess, 
and how far they have power to oblige the faith 
of Catholics ; because otherwise we might run 
into errors on both sides. On the one hand we 
might tamper with the great prerogative of in- 
fallibility, and on the other confound truth with 
probability, and get superstition out of the ad- 
mixture. For let us see how the case stands. 
Every one will admit that there is an immense 
body of direct or indirect teaching in these bi- 
ographies, bearing in the way of illustration at 


least, if not of proof, upon the commonly receiv- 
ed doctrines in the schools of theology. A man 
need not have gone deeper than Bellarmine in 
his reading to perceive this. A whole corpus 
of doctrine and practice might be drawn up out 
of them ; and as a matter of fact, great use is 
made of them as soon as ever men come to 
teach doctrine or ascetics in a practical way. 
Almost all the great works of catechetical in- 
struction are adorned by examples drawn from 
the Lives of the Saints; and the same remark will 
apply to a considerable proportion of our most 
classical books of devotion. Some of this teach- 
ing consists in beautiful enforcements and ex- 
emplifications of truths already taught us by au- 
thority ; some adds its weight to questions left 
open to dispute in the Catholic schools, and in- 
clines the balance in this or that direction ; some 
forms the actual foundation of '* pious opinions " 
among the faithful, or aids in propagating new 
devotions, as St. Theresa gave at least quite a 
fresh stimulus to the devotion to St. Joseph,* 
and the venerable Margaret Mary Alacoque, and 
F. Colombiere to that of the Sacred Heart ;t even 
the miracles themselves are in many instances 
closely connected with doctrine. The truth of all 

* The first public appearance of this devotion was in the Con- 
fhitemity of Bachelors at Avignon : and it is said to have been 
first propagated by Gregory XI. in the fourteenth century, in the 
ancient church of St. Agricola at Avignon. 

t Such at least is the common opinion ; but in the life of F. 
Eudes, a posthumous work of the Jesuit de Hontigny, the origin 
of this devotion is referred to F. Eudes. Liv. x. p. 366. note. 


this may at once bo shown by a few examples. 
St. Philip Neri, previous to the reformed discipline 
of the Council of Trent, miraculously discovers 
a youth to be in priest's orders by the shining 
of the sacerdotal character on his forehead, St. 
Catherine of Bologna assures us, and her words 
are quoted in almost countless treatises of devo- 
tion, that she gained whatever she wished through 
the intercession of the holy souls in purgatory; 
yet this appears prima facie opposed to the teach- 
ing of St. Thomas. The question of the safety 
and propriety of the peculiar devotions to the 
Sacred Humanity of Jesus, which are found such 
stumbling-blocks by those who are not Catholics, 
and have been so successfully propagated by 
the sons of St. Ignatius, is considered as set at 
rest in no slight degree by the authority of St. 
Theresa, and the supernatural lights she received 
on the subject. From the Life of St. Francis 
Jerome we gain a fearful knowledge of the in« 
tensity of the pains of purgatory; from that 
of St. Stanislas Eostka we are piously led to 
believe that the great feasts of the Church Mili- 
tant are in some way noted in the Church Tri- 
umphant ; and from that of the B. Henry Suso 
we obtain a most vivid idea of the refreshment of 
the adorable sacrifice of the Mass to the soula 
in purgatory. So from other Lives we learn the 
peculiar power which certain prayers appear to 
have in heaven ; for example, the well-known 
instance of the Antiphon, Sub tuum praesidium 
confugimus, before the Litany of Loreto, and 
the words Eja ergo advocata nostra in the Salve 


Regina, as was revealed to St. Gertrude ; and 
from the Life of the venerable Benedict Joseph 
we learn, that a life of perpetual pilgrimage to 
holy shrines, may even in these self-wise days 
be, with proper vocation, acceptable to Almighty 

Instances might be multiplied almost ad infin- 
itum, but these will suffice. Now it is plain that 
all this cannot be disposed of in any brief or 
contemptuous way; the attention, the conscien- 
tious deliberative attention, of a Catholic must 
be arrested by it, and perhaps the more he lives 
in the practice of the presence of God, the more 
time he spends in the peaceful region of prayer, 
the less will he be inclined to handle these things 
in a summary and disrespectful way. Can he 
safely reject as false, or at least not worth a 
thought, everything which is not positively do 
fide? Certainly not: it would be the most un- 
reasoning indiscretion, the most impatient intel- 
lectual rashness that could be conceived. It 
would be the case of a man whose prime care 
was, not to be in harmony with the Church, but 
just to turn the comer of formal heresy by an 
adroit and perilous nicety: it would be the case 
of a man, who through culpable idleness and 
still more culpable fretfulness of intellect, de- 
clined the toil and thought and humble submis- 
sion to the authority of great and good men 
which the matter required and exacted, and hav- 
ing thus come to a decision by a faulty moral 
process, he would be found, as is usual, bigoted 
in his own opinion, and a loud and irritable 


censor of those whose opposite conduct appeared 
to contradict his own. 

What then would be the course which a wise 
and pious discretion would pursue ? First of all 
a man would laj down the authoritatiye teach- 
ing of the Church as his sole rule, his onlj really 
diyine one ; and while he would not yenture to 
assert that eyerjthing besides that was false, he 
would most unhesitatingly assert that eyerjthing 
which contradicted that was beyond all contro- 
yersy false ; and secondly, that whateyer eyen 
seemed the least out of harmony with the rule 
was on no account to be receiyed, until the ap- 
parent discrepancy was reconciled in some way 
or other; and thirdly, that in no subject-matter 
would he eyince more slowness, more jealousy, 
more suspicion, than in the case of these appa- 
rent discrepancies with authorized teaching ; and 
fourthly, that the more exclusiyely such matters 
rested on yisions, reyelations, prophecies, and the 
like, all the more cautious would he be in receiy- 
ing them, because he would feel himself within 
the special proyince of spiritual delusions. These 
canons must surely recommend themselyes to 
eyery one, not as yery deep certainly, but as safe 
and orthodox, inasmuch as they lead us to mea- 
sure eyerything by its greater or less analogy 
with the authoritatiye teaching of the Churchy 
and admit of a prudent jealousy as ballast to 
anything like a precipitate judgment or as a 
spur to a lazy credulity. We haye before us as 
a fact the existence of a yery eztensiye and sin- 
gularly influential department of Catholic litera- 


tore, the Liyes of the Saints, and we have ques- 
tions rising out of it which must be dealt with. 
It is not then a difficulty created for the mere 
pleasure of removing it ; we find it ready for us, 
and pressing upon us. Starting therefore with 
these canons, and desiring no greater residuum 
of matter to be belieyed than these shall leave 
us, let us try to state the case of this yoluminous 
literature, and to obtain more minute and prac- 
tical rules for our guidance in allowing ourselves 
to be influenced by the Lives of the Saints. 

First for the statement of the case; for in 
this matter, as in most others, a clear statement 
brings us half way to a conclusion. In opening 
the Lives of holy men, 1. canonized, 2. beatified, 
3. of whom the Church has pronounced that they 
practised virtue in an heroic degree, and 4. who 
are considered commonly among Catholics as 
having died in the odour of sanctity, and conse- 
quently as candidates, to use a low word, for the 
honours of canonization — in opening the Lives 
of these men there two things especially which 
strike us. First, the constant, and in some in- 
stances, as in that of St. Joseph of Cupertino, 
almost unconscious exercise of miraculous powers, 
the occurrence of raptures, visions, bodily trans- 
formations, power over demons, the intermingling 
of the visible and invisible worlds, the reading 
of the secrets of the heart, the gift of bilocation, 
as it is called, and the like : these seem to sur- 
round the servant of God like an atmosphere, so 
that we have at first some little difficulty in get- 
ting at his common character. He seems to be- 


long to a different order from ourselves ; we haye 
by an effort to strip him of his miraculous pow- 
ers and gifts gratis data in order to discern be- 
tween the admirable and the imitable. These 
marvels are to some quite unedifjing, nay, al- 
most shock and startle them; in others, as in 
St. Francis of Sales already quoted, they breed 
a more intense love of €U)d, a much livelier ap- 
prehension of the mysteries of the faith, a gen- 
erous contempt of the world and its little politics, 
a holy indifference to calumny and wrong, and 
a more efficacious desire to nerve themselves up 
for penance and the hard practices of interior 
mortification and the stony ascents of Christian 
perfection. Whether the fault is in the marvels 
for giving people disedification, or people are in 
fault for taking disedification from them, anyhow 
there the marvels are; and we are now only 
dealing with facts as we find them. 

The second thing we observe in the Lives of 
these servants of God is a most extensive class 
of actions, totally opposed to the common rules 
of human prudence, and even repugnant to the 
prejudices of flesh and blood, as savouring of 
childishness, or indiscretion, or a want of so- 
briety or moderation, or as simply capricious. 
We may take as example St. Francis Borgia, al- 
lowing his face to be spit upon all night; St. 
Peter Martyr letting himself be imprisoned and 
remain for three years under a scandalous charge 
of impurity, which he might have dispelled by a 
word ; St. John of God feigning himself mad ; St. 
Philip Neri playing the fool, as men would call 


it^ in front of Chiesa Nuoya, or reading light 
booloB to giye foreigners a lov opinion of him; 
Saints Marina and Theodora disgnising them- 
selyes as men, and afterwards allowing children 
to be fathered on them without discoyering the 
imposture ; Brother Juniper, the Franciscan, per- 
mitting himself to be taken to the gibbet as a 
murderer, and only deliyered bj a singular in- 
teryention of Proyidence. These are specimens 
of the kind of actions alluded to, and instances 
might be almost infinitely multiplied. Now it 
must be borne in mind that we are not apolo^- 
zing for these actions, still less holding them up 
as imitable ; the latter proceeding would be in- 
discreet, the former impertinent; we are only 
noting the fact, that they occur abundantly, and 
so far as we haye seen, in every Life of the ser- 
yants of God whose causes haye come before 
the Congregation of Rites. It is simply to the 
undeniable and significant fact that we desire 
to call attention at present. 

Furthermore it must be remembered, that 
these extraordinaty actions, seemingly so opposed 
to the dictates of prudence, are by no means 
easily or lightly admitted by the Sacred Con- 
gregation in the causes of beatification and ca- 
nonization. To refer them to a special instinct 
of the Holy Ghost is not a mere inyention of 
idleness or a refuge of uncritical credulity. On 
the contrary, they are submitted to a most rigid 
examination; causes are often delayed because 
of them, and a discussion takes place on the 
practice of the cardinal yirtue of prudence as 


exhibited bj the servant of God whose cause is 
under consideration. Thus, when Canon Zanotti, 
misled by the spurious acts of St. Proculus, the 
patron of Bologna, referred his alleged homi- 
cide of Marinus to a special instinct of the Holy 
Ghost, Benedict XIV.,* in showing the spurious- 
ness of the acts, speaks very strongly of the duty 
of trying every other method of explanation, be- 
fore the known sanctity of a Saint induces us 
to refer any of his extraordinary actions to a 
special instinct of the Holy Ghost. In the same 
way the Roman Sophronia, who killed herself 
during the persecution of Maxentius, is not 
reckoned among the Saints, because, as Baillet 
says, the Church had no proof of this being an 
inspiration ; so that, although in the sight of 
God, who knows the heart, she might be a mar- 
tyr, she could not be so before the Church, who 
does not judge the secrets of hearts. St. Austin 
also tells us that Mensurius of Carthage would 
not count as martyrs those who imprudently and 
without special call were the cause of their own 
martyrdom. When the cause of the Blessed 
Sebastian of Apparizio came before the Congre- 
gation, the Promoter of the Faith objected to 
his having been twice married, and yet in both 
unions lived in continence, especially as no proof 
was oflfered of his wives having consented to 
this, as there was in the case of St. Bridget and 

* De Canon, iii. 18. martyris repugnantia, 8, 9. As we follow 
Benedict XIV. thronghont we shall not load the pages with re^ 
ferences, but content ourselves with this general acknowledge- 


Ulfo for a time ; so that it seemed rather a re- 
prehensible singularitj and contrary to the sa- 
crament of matrimony, than an instance of he- 
roic purity. In consequence of this the cause 
was stopped, and the case referred to the three 
universities of Paris, Padua, and Salamanca. 
The decision was in favour of Sebastian ; the 
cause proceeded and he was beatified. In like 
maimer the postulators in the cause of the 
Blessed Peter Forier had to contend with the 
Promoter of the Faith on behalf of his prudence 
in recommending continence to several married 
persons. On the other hand the martyrdom of 
St. Emmeram of Ratisbon, related by Baronius 
(ad ann. 702), offers a most striking example of 
the prudence which the Church requires in 
those for whom the honours of canonization are 
claimed. When he had been most cruelly mu- 
tilated he asked his priest Yitalis to bring him 
some cold water to refresh him; the priest, a 
thoroughgoing rigorist, and as such as deficient 
in prudence as in afifectionateness, answered, 
that he ought rather to desire death than re- 
freshment; but St. Emmeram rejoined that no 
one ought to hasten to death, but rather to wish 
it should be deferred, that our weakness may 
have more space wherein to do penance. In 
harmony with this, the Church always in the 
case of her martyrs institutes a most rigid in- 
quiry into the preparation they made for mar- 
tyrdom, whether they were baptised or went to 
confession and received the Communion if they 
could, and the like, as we see in the causes of 


St. John Nepomuc, St. Fidelis of Sigmaringa, 
and the twenty-six martyrs of Japan, and any 
proof of venturous negligence in these respects 
would immediately stop the cause. If then the 
extraordinary actions of the Saints, and the con- 
formity of even martyrs at the very time of 
martyrdom to the ordinary obligations oft Ca- 
tholics, are submitted to such a jealous and sus- 
pecting rigour, our confidence surely must be 
proportionably heightened when the servants of 
God have passed the sacred ordeal, and are placed 
on the altars of the church for the admiration and 
imitation of the faithful. For, let it be observed 
once for all, and borne in mind throughout, the 
judicious Benedict XIV., in giving reasons why 
baptized children, though martyrs, should not 
ordinarily be canonized, says, '' beatifications and 
canonizations are not solemnized only that we 
may have authorized* intercessors with God, but 
also that we may imitate the deeds of those so 
canonized, and no ratio imitandi can be drawn 
from the case of infants." In the same way 
Pius VL, when he beatified Andrea Ibemon, 
a Franciscan lay-brother, in 1791, says in his 
decree, '' It is the duty of Christians to imitate 
what they venerate ; we therefore think it our 
duty to hold out to you the Blessed Andrea 
Ibemon for your veneration, and entreat you to 
imitate his virtues,"! It is quite necessary to 

* AiOhorizedt i. e. to us and for our devotions, not as if the de- 
cision of the Church affected a comprekensor further than by in- 
creasing his accidental glory. 

t Charles Butler in ?it cijusd. 


remember that imitation, not admiration, is the 
object of the Church in canonizing Saints; it is 
one great part of her office as regards the morals 
of the faithfoL This most materiallj influence 
our view of the marrellous part of the Saints' 
Lives, inasmuch as it shows that at least these 
extraordinary and irregular actions would ope- 
rate against their canonization rather than ad- 
yance it. 

Extraordinary however as this class of the 
Saints' actions must be considered, we shall find 
that even those very actions are not mere 
objects of admiration, but convey lessons and 
propose models to all who are aiming at ad- 
vancement in the spiritual life. Let us open 
the most accredited books of devotion and spiri- 
tual direction, and see in what sort of way they 
are handled there ; for their appearance in such 
quarters is very much connected with the whole 
question now under consideration. Take for 
example the noted Catechisme Spirituel of F. 
Surin ; * speaking of true wisdom he says, 
"Q. In what does true wisdom consist? A. 
In ruling our judgments according to the 
common sense of the Saints. Q. What do 
you understand by the common sense of the 
Saints? A. I understand what they commonly 
think of the maxims of the Gospel, and the 
ideas which they have of perfection. Q. What 
then are the sources of true wisdom? A. The 
Crospel, the writings of the Saints, their senti- 

» Vol. 1. p. viU. c. 1. 


ments and their conduct, when all of them or 
nearly all of them, agree in thinking in the same 
way of certain points of perfection: for exam- 
ple, of the practice of gentleness, of self-con- 
tempt, and of the virtues about which we have 
spoken in the chapter on the Eyangelical Coun- 
sels. For, although the Saints differ yeiy much 
from each other, looked at with reference to 
their outward conduct, they resemble each other 
strikingly in their ideas of virtue, and in their 
manner of practising it, so that it is evident 
they are all animated by one spirit. This as- 
semblage of ideas, maxims, and practices, in 
which the Saints agree, form what we call true 
wisdom. It has two essential characteristics ; 
the one is — ^to be opposed to human prudence 
to such a degree as to look to men's eyes like 
folly: and the second is — to be so deep and 
hidden, that even the majority of those who 
practise virtue do not comprehend it, although 
no one who lives according to the spirit of Chris- 
tianity can be altogether ignorant of it. Q. Have 
you no example by which you can make us un- 
derstand wherein this hidden wisdom consists? 
A. There are none more marked than those of 
St. Francis and St. Ignatius. They loved con- 
tempt to such a degree, that they wished to pass 
for fools, and to perform actions which might 
earn that title for them; and although they 
had the precaution to warn us not to follow 
instincts of this sort without great reasons in- 
volving the glory of God, it is nevertheless true 
that they regarded this practice as an excellent 


degree of perfection, and that in this matter 
their opinion was conformable to that of the 
rest of the Saints. There are several other 
points in this wisdom which the greater part of 
mankind has no relish for : for example, taking 
affronts and insnlts quietly, without seeking rep- 
aration for them. Q. Besides the Gospel and 
the writings of the Saints, is there no other 
living rule on which we could form ourselves 
so as to acquire this wisdom? A. Among the 
persons with whom we live, the common opinion 
of those who pass in the minds of the public for 
perfect may serve as a law and sure rule in this 
matter. For it generallj happens that those 
persons whom we consider truly mortified, dis- 
interested, and wholly given up to piety, all think 
alike ; and without knowing each other, agree 
perfectly in the judgments they pass on the 
practice of virtue. It is in fact because they 
are all breathing the same air of sanctity, and 
are interiorly instructed in the same school, 
which is that of Jesus Christ. These persons, 
who live according to the maxims of the Gos- 
pel, may be regarded as the depositories and 
interpreters of the minds of the Saints, and we 
may apply to them what our Lord has said of 
himself. They who shall do the Will of My Fa- 
ther, shall know if this doctrine be of God. 
Let us then, who wish to acquire the true wis- 
dom, consult the opinion of the persons of whom 
we have spoken. As to men of learning and 
talent, if their wisdom is not based upon the 
mortification and abnegation of the Gospel, they 


may indeed serve well for a rule in matters of 
faith and theology; but it would not be always 
safe to follow their opinion in the practice of 
this hidden wisdom which Jesus Christ has 
taught, and which the Saints alone have relish- 
ed. In fact, we see that scholars are so little 
agreed among themselyes (upon questions of this 
sort) and pass such conflicting judgments on 
matters of spirituality, that no great account 
is to be made of what they say of it." 

These two things then, this constant dealing 
with the supernatural, and this multitude of ac* 
tions seemingly repugnant to human prudence 
and social conyentions, are just the distinguish- 
ing characteristics of these servants of €U)d, 
marked out for the honours of ecclesiastical cul- 
tus. We boldly appeal to those who have any 
acquaintance with the voluminous literature of 
modem hagiology, if these two classes do not 
contain within themselves almost every discerni- 
ble difference between ordinarily pious Catholics, 
and those whom the Church puts upon the al- 
tars for the veneration of the faithful. The- 
ologically speaking, the logical differentia of a 
saint is the heroicvty of his virtues i* but then 
when we come to see what this heroicity is and 
wherein it consists, we And that the special 

* This must not be understood to mean that heroic virtue is 
speoifioally different firom non-heroic virtue; this would be con- 
trary to the consentient doctrine of St. Thomas, Scotus, and Suarez. 
The view taken in the text, in order to obtain an intelligible 
classification which would separate saints from ordinarily pious 
Catholics, is of course not to be confounded with the philosophical 
question of the specific difference of heroic virtue. 


exhibitions of it are in these extraordinary 
actions, and the special seals of it the mira- 
cles wrought through the saints themselves or 
through their relics. The commonly received 
scholastic definition of heroicity implies as much 
as this ; virtus heroica est ille virtutis gradus, 
perfectio, sen fulgor, et excellentia, quae facit, 
ut homo circa materiam illius virtutis, supra com- 
munem aliorum haminum operandi modum opere- 
iur, et in hoc Deo simUis sit.* It is therefore no 
exaggeration (however it may seem so) to say 
that in order to get the species "Saint" out 
of the genus ''good Catholic," the differentia 
must consist of the combination of the two 
things here mentioned. Add these things to a 
"good Catholic," and he becomes the similitude 
of one of those whom the Church holds up for 
our cultus ; remove these things, and he sinks 
again to the level of an ordinarily pious Catho- 
lic ; for the heroicity of his virtues is, we repeat, 
found either in the seal God has set to his prac- 
tice of them, and this is by the gift of miracles, 
or in these apparently strange actions, which 
are then to be regarded as the fruits of a spe- 
cial instinct of the Holy Ghost. Apply this rule, 
for instance, to the Lives of many of those noble 
French ecclesiastics who were contemporaries of 
St. Vincent of Paul, and founders of those nu- 
merous missionary Congregations which so won- 
derfully revived the ancient Ambrosian spirit 
of the clergy. Some of them, however holy. 

* Card. Lauria 1. 3. sent. torn. 2. disp. 32. n. 27. ap. Scaramell. 


have quite a different aspect from those whom 
the Church inscribes in the catalogue of the 
saints, while others, such as M. Olier, the foun- 
der of St. Sulpice, seem only to require the ju- 
dicial solemnities to make them of the fratemi- 
tj of the canonized. Any one yersed in the 
biographies of the saints will at once admit the 
truth of this ; thej know almost beforehand 
the kind of actions which they will perform ; 
their mind is constantlj suggesting parallels 
from the Lives of other saints ; the perfect simil- 
itude and consistency of the whole is quite fa- 
miliar to them, so that they know "the kind of 
thing," to use a forcible yulgarism, to look for 
when they open the book. In a word, to repeat 
what was said before, the marvellous and the 
eccentric, as the • foolish wisdom of the world 
would call them, form the logical differentia 
by which we acquire the species '' Saint ;" and 
this, independent of the conclusions which may 
be drawn from it. is extremely stritiag, and 
merits a serious and prolonged consideration. 

But there is also another point which should 
not be forgotten, and which seems to render the 
isolation of the saintly character more complete 
and impressive. For if the differentia of the 
Saints is to be found in the combination of the 
marvellous and the eccentric, suffering, and of 
all sufferings especially the persecution and op- 
position of good men, seems to be an iiisepa- 
rahle accident of sanctity, so soon as and so far 
as it is heroic. It was necessary that Christ 
should suffer and so enter into His glory, is in 


its measure applicable to His saints. Hence an 
inquiry into this very thing forms part of the 
work of the Congregation of Rites. Not only 
are the sicknesses of the servant of €U)d and 
the ordinary afflictions of his life inquired into, 
and the manner in which he bore them, but 
the falling away of his friends, the ridicule of 
the world, and the opposition of even good men, 
are inyestigated with special care, and that too 
while the dubium about his virtues is under con- 
sideration, as though these afflictions and thwart- 
ings were, so to speak, authentications which 
Providence is sure to give to heroic virtue, and 
of even a more convincing nature than miracles, 
seeing that the investigation of these cannot be 
entered upon until the dubium on the virtues 
has been solved and set at rest. Yet it is plain 
that these things add greatly to the likelihood 
of the Saint's character being misunderstood, 
or giving offence at first sight ; they impart a 
look of strangeness to his life ; they naturally 
make us suspect singularity, or self-will, or at 
least a want of discretion in not keeping in 
favour with virtuous persons and authorities. 
Many an objection of this sort which is made 
by readers, is nothing more than a repetition, 
although unconscious, of the shrewd shifts of the 
promoter of the faith, which he has urged out 
of a sense of duty, and which the postulators 
have answered and refuted to the satisfaction 
of the acuteness and jealousy of the Sacred Con- 
gregation. A very limited acquaintance with 
Acts of Canonization will enable a man to 


see how true this is, and how seldom we can 
hear now from critics in the world even a toler- 
ably plausible objection to the actions of a Saint, 
which has not been already far better urged 
and very completely answered in the Congrega- 

We read in the Lives of the Saints of plans and 
actions which offend many even pious readers ; 
they disapprove of them in themselves, they 
disapprove still more of their being held up ei- 
ther to the admiration or imitation of the 
faithful. Now if when the Saints themselves 
were alive, redolent with the odour of their sanc- 
tity, the vividness of their bright example and 
the solemn authentication of their frequent mi- 
racles fresh upon them and around them — if at 
at that time there was almost a general disappro- 
bation of their plans and modes of action, as in 
the case of St. Alphonso Liguori, when he found- 
ed his Congregation, if, as again St. Alphonso 
was, they were left persisting in a kind of proud- 
looking isolation, if even popes and bishops were 
against them, and they gave way only to the 
pressure of actual command, if the pious were 
scandalized, and the holy Inquisition interfered, 
if calumny seemed for the while truth, and truth 
hypocrisy, if these wonderful men also went so 
far as to consider this opposition and offence 
the best proof they could have that their work 
was the Will of God, as St. Philip Neri and our 
good bishop ChaUoner are said often to have 
refused to join in a work because it was not op- 
posed by good kind of men, if all this took place 


where thej were personally concerned, must not 
something of the same sort be always expected 
towards their Lives, especially if those Lives be 
faithful and minute? And will not this easily 
account for the diversity of opinion and the 
somewhat offended temper of objection which 
Saints' Lives have generally elicited? What the 
unkindly world, and the remaining worldliness 
in the ordinary faithful, foimd so uncongenial 
in the living Saints, will still be uncongenial in 
their Lives; although of course, in the oase of 
Catholics, the intervention of the Church and 
the honours she has decreed to the Saint, will 
soften and diminish this, and will naturally 
make criticism less positive and more modest. 

Tet after all the fact remains: these are just 
the cases in which there has been this interven- 
tion of the Church ; it is exactly these men and 
men like them whom the Church has singled 
out with her unerring instinct for canonization; 
men who have had to confront this opposition, 
jealousy, thwarting, and suspicion of the good, 
and who have passed through the terrific ordeal 
of this heart-breaking persecution ; and this fact, 
without pushing it even as far as we might, will 
be found most difficult of explanation on any 
hypothesis of adversaries, and yet most imperi- 
ously requires one at their hands. 

Let us now take some instances, in order that 
we may not lie open to a charge of exaggera- 
tion. In the second report of the Auditors of 
the Rota, in the cause of St. Theresa, we read 
that she was so completely abandoned by every 


one, that nobody would even hear her confessions. 
The auditors tell us of St. John of God and St. 
Jerome Emiliani, that they were counted and 
treated as mad ; Surius tells us almost the same 
of St. Louis King of France. As to persecutions 
from heathen and heretics, we know what St. 
Francis Xayier suffered in India, St. James de 
la Marche from the Fraticelli, St. Pascal Baj- 
lon from the Huguenots, and St. Didacus in the 
Canaries ; and for examples of persecution from 
bad Catholics, we have the priest Florentinus 
trying to poison St. Benedict, as St. Gregory 
tells us, the spite of Frate Elia against St. Francis 
and St. Anthony of Padua, the sufferings of St.' 
Vincent Ferrer, St. Theresa, St. Charles Borro- 
meo, and particularly the cruel persecutions 
which St. John of the Cross underwent in his 
great enterprise of reforming the Carmelite Or- 
der: to say nothing of the martyrdoms of St. 
John Nepomuc, and our own St. Thomas. But 
it is more to our purpose to adduce instances 
of the Saints being persecuted by good men, 
whom God, for their own humiliation and the 
merit of His servant, allowed to mistake the 
Saint, or to be deceived by calumny. St. Philip 
Neri was persecuted by Roman prelates under 
Paul IV. and St. Pius V.; his pilgrimages to 
the Seven Churches were put down to vain- 
glory or a seditious humour, and he was dis- 
graced. St. Alphonso Liguori, after having 
been persecuted by Father Ripa and made the 
laughing-stock of Naples, was no sooner deserted 
by his first companions, Mandarini and others. 


at Scala, than he was denounced by name from 
the pulpits of the capital as a warning to other 
•elf-sufficient dreamers. St. Theresa was de- 
nounced to the Inquisition, and so was St. 
Ignatius. The venerable abbot Berrer was de- 
posed by a delegate of the Holj See, and bore 
his unjust punishment with the utmost patience 
for seven years. The glorious St. Joseph Gala- 
•anctius, whose Life is such a study for these 
times, was summoned before the Inquisition; he 
was deprived of his office of general; his order 
was abolished and reduced to a simple Congre- 
gation, and was not restored until after his 
death by Clement IX. All this was in Rome 
itself, and under the eyes of Sdvereign Pontiff, 
.whose officials, without any fault of their own 
or any want of justice, were deceived by a mali- 
cious conspiracy; and we are actually told that 
BO fk'oquont and grievous were the persecutions 
which St. Joseph Calasanctius underwent from 
good men and prelates in authority, that the 
postulators were more than once on the point of 
giving the cause up in despair, such tedious 
difficulty had they to make their groimd good 
against the promoter of the faith. In like 
manner Leo IX. was imposed upon and set 
against St. Peter Damian; and St. Gregory 
tells us that the Holy See gave ear to the ca- 
lumniators of St. Equitius, who accused him of 
preaching without authority. Nay, even the 
absence of this kind of persecution seems to 
have amounted almost to an objection in the 
case of St. Francesca Romana ; it was hinted that 


she was entering into her glory without this 
suffering; though, as every one knows, it pleas- 
ed God to allow her to be subjected to frightful 
assaults of the evil one, which the auditors ac- 
tually put in the place of other persecutions, 
and which may be seen at length in the second 
March volume of the Bollandists. Thus, as 
Benedict XIV. remarks, in all causes it is to be 
"sedulously inquired whether the servants of 
Crod suffered distresses, and what sort of dis- 
tresses, and with what patience and charity 
they bore them." 

What has been said in the preceding para- 
graphs must not however be pushed too far, 
that is, beyond the point for which there is evi- 
dence, or be understood in too exclusive a sense. 
It certainly does seem that the union of extra- 
ordinary actions with the frequent exercise of 
miraculous powers forms the differentia constitu- 
ting the species Saint, that in a great multitude 
of cases, perhaps the majority, the heroicity of 
a virtue renders it misunderstood by those who 
have not a spiritual discernment, so that he- 
roicity and singularity may sometimes be ap- 
parently and accidentally synonymous, and that 
the jealous suspecting opposition of good men 
is attached in the manner of an inseparable ac- 
cident to the character of heroic virtue. But it 
must be remembered that this is not all ; this 
does not embrace the entire character of a Saint ; 
he is not merely an assemblage of eccentricities, 
nor is it the object of what has been said to 
hold him up as such. These are the prominen- 


ces in wliich his heroism juts out beyond the 
level of ordinary attainments, and therefore 
they are precisely the things by which we know 
him, but they are not his sum and substance. 
They cannot even be proceeded to in his cause 
until the virtuous discharge of his relative du- 
ties has been examined. Nay, in everything 
peculiar to or important in his particular sta- 
tion in life, an heroic degree of virtue is expect- 
ed. If he has published any works or left man- 
uscripts behind, they undergo a rigorous revi- 
sion, and that of a most minute kind ; and al- 
though their passing that revision does not im- 
ply any such approbation of the Holy See as 
that a man may not modestly impugn the doc- 
trine of a Saint, yet it aids greatly towards the 
formation of our judgment about him. Thus 
it was objected in the Congregation as a hin- 
derance in the cause of St. Mary Magdalene of 
Pazzi, that in her revelations our Lord was 
said to have been crucified with three nails ; 
whereas St. Bridget had taught, and it was the 
more common and Catholic opinion, that He was 
crucified with four. The xmcertainty about 
the relics of the holy nails of course throws no 
light upon the question, as it is supposed that 
some of them were not used to affix the Holy 
Body, but to fasten the title, or in the workman- 
ship of the cross itself. Neither again does the 
impression of three nails on the heart of St. 
Clare of Montefalco go towards any settlement 
of the question, because, as the Bollandists and 
Cornelius Curtius tell us, raptures may be in 


their substance diyine, and yet in their circum- 
stances conformed to species naturally perceiv- 
ed : and it is on this principle we must explain 
the circumstantial discrepancies we find in vi- 
sions and ecstasies following on fervent medita- 
tions of the Passion, and the seeming contradic- 
tions between such books, for example, as those 
of St. Bridget and Sister Emmerich.* Even 
reported sayings and sermons of a servant of 
Grod are scrutinized when his cause comes be- 
fore the Congregation. For instance: the Do- 
minicans affirmed that the blood which our Lord 
shed during the triduo of His Passion remained 
hjpostaticallj united to His divinity ;t the Fran- 

* It sbould also be remembered tbat wben the Holy See ap- 
proves of the priyate revelations of St. Hildegarde, St. Bridget, 
and St. Gathe'rine of Sienna, she only claims our assent on Atonon, 
not divine, faith. The words in Cardinal k Turrecremata*s appro- 
bation of St. Bridget's revelations are, ** that they can be read in 
Church in the same way the books of other doctors, and the his- 
tories and legends of the Saints." See also Melchior Canus. 12. 8. 
and Ciuetan, Martinus del Bio ap. Azeved. 

tQuod Yerbum semel assumpsit nunquam dimisit, moraliter 
loquendo de partibus ad integritatem corporis necessariis, C. phy- 
Bioe loquendo de partioulis minimis sine quibus stat integrum cor- 
pus, N. Ita intelligendus venit D. Th. inf. q. 54, a. 2, ad 3, dum 
dicit totum sanguinem qui de corpore Christi fluxit, in corpore 
Christl resurrexisse: hoc, inquam, verifioatur moraliter de toto 
sanguine qui fuit neoessarius ad integritatem corporis in statu re- 
surrectionis, non vero physioe de toto omnino, etiam minimis par- 
ticulis non necessariis. Unde Pius II, in bulla ad abbatem S. 
Maris Xantonensis dioecesis, quam vidisse se ait Silvester in rosa 
aurea tract. 3, q. 31, dicit fidei veritati non repugnare, asserere 
Bedemptorem nostrum de sanguine in cruce effuso, ob ipsius pas- 
aionis memoriam et fidelium consolationem, partem aliquam in 
terris reliquisse. 

£x dictis ooUigis sanguinem Christi etiam in triduo mortis man- 
■isse hypostatice unitum Yerbo; tum quia resumendus erat in 
oorpore resnrgente ; hac etiam ratione caro et anima inter se sep^ 


ciscans denied it. During the Easter of 1462 
St. James de la Marche, preaching at Brescia, 
asserted the Franciscan doctrine, and said that 
the Blood shed in the Passion could not rightly 
receive the cultus latriae. The next day a Do- 
minican preached, and branded St. James's pro- 
position as heretical. James of Brescia, the Do- 
minican inquisitor, requested St. James by pri- 
vate letters to retract his assertion, as having 
been formally declared heretical in the cathe- 
dral of Barcellona by command of Clement VI. 
The next Tuesday however St. James publicly 
repeated his doctrine in a sermon, whereupon 
the inquisitor summoned him to answer for his 
faith under pain of an anathema. The bishop 
of Brescia interposed to bring about a reconci- 
liation, and Pius II. refused to solve the doubt, 
but by a brief freed St. James from the charge 

aratae mansenint nnitae Yerbo; turn quia alias si consecratas Aiis- 
set oalix in triduo mortis, divinitas non faisset per concomitant 
tiam sub speciebus vini, quod est contra Trid. sess. 18, o. 3. Secut 
dicendom de pneputio et sanguine effUso in circumcisione quia 
non erant resumenda in resurrectione. . 

Nota contrariam sententiam quosdam ordinis F. F. Minorum 
pnedicasse circa annum 1852, sub Clemente YI. et anno 1462, sub 
Pio II, contentionemque acrem inde ortam inter praefatos Fratres 
Minores et F. F. Praedicatores oppugnantes. Re delata ad sum- 
mum poutificem Pium II, utrinque coram ipso et coetu cardinalium 
disputatum est, Pio II et majore parte cardinalium in favorem 
sententise Prsedicatorum opinautibus: non fuit tamen qniestio de- 
finita, ne multitude Minorum, ciijns erat contra Turcas prsedica- 
tio necessaria, offenderetur. Imo Pius II, decima quinta die ante 
mortem constitutione edita, vetuit ne quis opinionem Minorum 
proscriberet ut haereticam, donee quaestio per sanctam Sedem de* 
finiretur. Ita Spondanus ad annum 1462. Porro hoec F. F. Mi- 
norum sententia, licet nondum hue usque proscripta, e scholis 
tamen est eliminata, utpote neo pia nee securct^ inquit Suares. 
SiUuart de rncamat. vii. 2. sub Jin. 


of heresy, and forbid either Dominicans or Fran- 
ciscans to moot the question again, but to ex- 
pect the decision of the Holy See. No express 
definition came out, but the Council of Trent 
having defined the Blood to be part of Christ, 
Cardinal de Lugo declares that the Franciscan 
doctrine can no longer be maintained without 
incurring the note of heresy. Under Paul V. 
then the doubt was started whether all this was 
not a sufficient obstacle to the resumption of 
the cause of St. James de la Marche. The case 
was handed to Cardinal Bellarmine, who, after 
carefully examining what had been done in the 
matter by Pius 11. decided in favour of the re- 
sumption. The Saint was formally beatified by 
Urban VIH. ; but when his canonization was 
proposed, the promoter of the faith brought the 
whole matter up again, and succeeding in quash- 
ing the cause until the reign of Innocent XII., 
who appointed a Congregation of theologians 
to examine the doctrine of St. James. They 
having decided that the opinion was a probable 
one, so far as any definitions existing in his time 
were concerned, the cause was resumed, and 
finished under Benedict XIII. This history will 
give some idea of the methods of procedure, as 
well as the spirit, of the Sacred Congregation. 

After his works and manuscripts have been 
revised, the life of the servant of God is then 
examined with reference to the three theological 
virtues ; his exercise of them, that of charity 
especially, is established by manifold heroic acts 
proved by competent testimony. In the three 


theological virtues, heroicity is always required ; 
on the four cardinal virtues heroicity is required 
in those alone which have a special bearing upon 
his office and position in life; of such impor- 
tance is the discharge of relative duties consid- 
ered! It is this definite and orderly discussion 
of the theological and cardinal virtues which has 
impressed itself so completely upon the form and 
arrangement of modem Italian biographers ; that 
fourfold division into facts, virtues, gifts, and 
miracles, which so entirely mystifies all chron- 
ology, and is mostly so teazing to English read- 
ers by its apparently awkward methodism. 
There can be no doubt but that Bacci's biogra- 
phy of St. Philip Neri would be far more life- 
like and captivating if it were arranged in chro- 
nological order ; the absence of this destroys all 
the light and shade of a life, and the develope- 
ment of a Saint is in itself, especially when he 
is a founder, of immense interest. But it may 
be questioned whether as spiritual reading and 
a lielp to mental prayer, a life written on the 
Italian method is not the best of the two. Any- 
how there can be no doubt that it is the pro- 
cesses of the Congregation which have introdu- 
ced this style of biography. 

As a very ancient instance of referring heroic 
actions to the theological virtues, we may quote 
that of St. Athanasius, who refers St. Anthony's 
victories over the demons to an heroic exercise 
of the theological virtue of hope. The contro- 
versy as to whether the theological virtues are 
necessarily connected with the moral, and the 


moral with one another, does not enter into this 
question, because all admit that if not necessarilj, 
at least in order to perfection, these connexions 
must certainly exist, and perfection is precisely 
what comes under consideration in the causes of 
the servants of Grod. The council of Vienne under 
Clement V. declared it to be the more probable 
opinion, that the theological virtues are infased 
into infants as well as adults in baptism; and 
Suarez gathers from the Council of Trent, that 
infased habits of faith, hope, and charity are 
given in justification ; so that the connexion of 
the theological virtues with each other is not 
merely from their own nature, but from God*s 
liberality in the first infusion of them. Hence 
the heroic exercise of one of the three is ac- 
coimted adequate proof, if none other is at 
hand, for the other two as well ; but inasmuch 
as the connexion of the moral virtues with the 
theological is an open question, the Thomists 
maintaining the affirmative, the Scotists the nega- 
tive, heroicity is required of the servant of God, 
at least in those of the moral virtues which 
more immediately bear upon his relative duties, 
independent of his heroic exercise of faith, hope, 
and charity. 

But to go a little more into this scrutiny about 
relative duties ; with ecclesiastics a most impor- 
tant inquiry instituted by the Congregation re- 
gards their obtaining Church preferment, their 
reluctance to accept it, their humility in the dis- 
charge of its duties, and the like. If the servant 
of God held high dignity, a complete stand is 


made till the postalaters show his freedom from 
ambition, naj, his aversion to the promotion, 
and his acceptance only in virtue of holy obe- 
dience. Some of the Saints have been remark- 
able for their steady and successful rejection of 
dignities; this was eminently the case with St. 
Philip Neri, St. Francis Borgia, St. Bernard, 
St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernardino of Sienna, 
St. Vincent Ferrer, and St. Philip Benizi, the 
great legislator of the Servites, who fled from 
Yiterbo and hid himself in a mountain, when 
the Cardinals were going to elect him Pope. 
Others again have accepted preferment after 
much struggling and in obedience to a precept 
of holy obedience, as was the case with St. 
Lawrence Justinian, St. Andrea Corsini, St. Pe- 
ter Damian, and the Blessed Nicolas Albergatus. 
St. Gregory the Great fled from his elevation, 
as John the deacon tells us ; St. Gregory VII. 
says violent hands were laid on him in order to 
make him pope. The same is related of Victor 
ni., Grelasius 11., Gregory X., St. Celestine V., 
and the glorious Pius V. When Clement XI. 
was elected pope, he refused to accept the tiara, 
and he was so determined in his refusal that 
four theologians were consulted as to whether 
he could continue to resist the will of the elec- 
tors without grave sin. One of these theolo- 
gians was the Blessed Joseph Mary Tonunasi; 
and their answer was in the negative. Some 
time afterwards Clement created the Blessed 
Joseph Mary a cardinal ; he out of humility re- 
fused, and persisted in his refusal; Clement 


playfullj turned against the holy theologian the 
arguments he himself had used to force his Ho- 
liness to ascend the papal throne, and compelled 
Tommasi to accept the dignity. In the cause 
of every servant of God who held ecclesiastical 
dignities this question is rigidly discussed, as 
we may see from the Acts of Pius V. St. Fran- 
cis of Sales, and the Venerable BeUarmine ; and 
when the cause of Innocent XL was introduced, 
the promoter of the faith, urging some ill- 
natured calumnies of Bayle, objected to the 
means he had used for obtaining a certain prela- 
cy which paved the way to the cardinalate ; and 
had he been able to substantiate his facts the 
cause would never have been introduced : but 
it was shown that then, as now, peevish, disap- 
pointed, and spiteful men were in the habit of 
transmitting packets of illnatured gossip from 
Rome to their correspondents in other countries, 
especially when the characters of men of note 
were concerned, in order to make themselves 
of a little transient importance ; and that this 
was the way in which Bayle had obtained his 
information, which was satisfactorily disproved 
by weighty documents. 

But, at the risk of being tedious, in order to 
prove the solicitude with which the Church 
exacts a virtuous discharge of relative duties 
from those who are to be raised upon her altars 
by the solemnity of canonization, let us bring 
together a few details, which will be found full 
of interest, and capable of throwing great light 
upon the whole of our present subject. If the 


serrant of €rod, whose cause is under consider- 
ation, has been sovereign pontiff, then, indepen- 
dent of the examination his life undergoes as a 
bishop and as a secular prince, particular atten- 
tion is paid to such points as the following : 
whether he has bestowed too much time on pol- 
itics and secular cares, whether he has practis- 
ed meditation, sought to advance in humilitj, 
bestowed dignities, especially the cardinalate, 
upon worthy and ** reluctant ^^ persons, whether 
he has been energetic in forwarding foreign 
missions, in watching jealously over ecclesiasti- 
cal discipline, and defending the rights of the 
Holy See, and whether in his court and person- 
al deportment there has been more of the em- 
peror than the pope. In fact, St. Bernard's book 
to Pope Eugenius is taken as the ideal of heroic 
virtue in the supreme pontificate ; and in a 
long list of canonized and beatified popes, up- 
wards of seventy, most wonderfully has all this 
heroic virtue been set forth for the comfort and 
edification of the Church. 

In the causes of cardinals special attention is 
paid to their obedience, frugality, residence, 
care of their titular Church, sincerity and bold- 
ness in counselling the pope, and cheerful sub- 
mission when he has decreed contrary to their 
advice. Thus Baronius, when cardinal, lived as 
plainly as when he was a simple Oratorian ; and 
the same may be said of the frugality and 
modesty of the Venerable Bellarmine and the 
B. Tommasi. Cardinal Bessarion affords an il- 
lustrious example of freedom in counselling the 


pope, and every one will remember the well- 
known courage of St. Pius V. when he was car- 
dinal. But it was actually a matter to be con- 
sidered by the Congregation whether the Vene- 
rable Cardinal Ximenes had not offended by 
excess from his having once said, perhaps in 
joke^ that the pope ought to have a '* bit of a 
frightening" now and then. The conduct of 
cardinals in their legations is also a subject of 
most jealous scrutiny when their causes come 
before the Congregation. 

An equally minute inquiry is instituted into 
the manner in which bishops have discharged 
their episcopal duties. An eminent spiritual 
writer has remarked, that the elevation to the 
episcopate has in most instances been found to 
be the cause of relaxed strictness and mortifica- 
tion; this therefore is inquired into. But one 
example will be enough to show to what details 
the scrutiny descends. The zeal of the apostles 
in giving confirmation as soon as they heard of 
the conversion of Samaria is looked upon as lay- 
ing a kind of precept upon bishops; and it is 
inquired whether the servant of God has been 
distinguished by a zeal for that sacrament of 
which he is the ordinary minister, and special 
mention is made of this in the bull of St. Turi- 
bius*s canonization, and it is also related of St. 
Wilfrid by Eddi Stephanus, his biographer. The 
conferring of orders, the* granting of faculties to 
confessors, the care of ecclesiastical seminaries, 
the government of nuns, reverence to the Holy 
See, conduct towards secular princes and noble- 


men, giying of patronage, expenditure of revennes^ 
all these are jealously examined. For example, 
in the cause of the Venerable Cardinal Ximeues 
the promoter of the faith objected, that through 
his exertions several of his relations had married 
into high families, and that he had given them 
ample dowries; and in the cause of the Ven- 
erable Card. Bellarmine it was objected, that he 
had given pensions to poor relations. 

Thus it is in the cause of religious from their 
vocation to their death, even to the making oi 
their wills, if they had been elevated to the 
episcopate, and had had a dispensation to make 
a will, as in the case of the B. Alexander 
Sauli, the Bamabite; thus also it is with kings, 
noblemen, and laymen of whatever rank, from 
him who wore the crown of the holy roman 
empire down to the Loreto-going beggar, Bene- 
dict Joseph. This may be seen from the Acts 
of St. Wenceslaus of Bohemia, Henry the em- 
peror, Edward of England, Leopold of Austria, 
Louis of France, Amadous III. of Savoy, Casimir 
of Poland, and the good St. Elzear of Subrano. 
The justice and moderation of their wars form 
no slight difficulty in causes of this latter kind. 
Thus it is also with virgins, widows, and mar- 
ried persons. In all cases the inquiry is most 
rigid and minute. Even the circumstances of 
the death-bed are always jealously examined, as 
if it were the touchstone of final perseverance. 
Sudden deaths may sometimes impede the ad- 
vancement of a cause, as rendering the proof 
of final perseverance incomplete ; then indirect 


and proximate evidence is carefully looked for, 
as in the case of St. Andrew Avellino and the 
B. Colette; or miracles immediately afterwards, 
as in the case of the B. Jordan, the general of 
the Dominicans. Scacchus tells us that the words 
with which the dying servants of God recommend 
their soul to Him must be weighed. When Ben- 
edict XIV. was promoter of the faith he objected 
to the words a servant of God had used on his 
death-bed about utter trust in God, seeming to 
exclude the notion of good works and to con- 
travene the decisions of Trent. In like manner 
objection was taken to Cardinal Paul Buralis 
of Arezzo having administered the Viaticum to 
himself with his own hand, when It was brought 
him — a singularity contrary to the custom of 
the modem Church. But Cardinal de Lugo 
shows that the consent of the priest who brought 
the Blessed Sacrament excludes all fault in the 
matter. St. Dominic mentioned things to his 
own praise on his death-bed, whereas St. John 
of the Cross would not allow such things to be 
named in his presence. St. Martin and St. 
Thomas of Villanova were willing their lives 
should be prolonged for the good of others; St. 
Philip Neri and St. Francis of Sales quite re- 
jected the idea. St. Francesca Romana was 
noted for having a death-bed without temptations, 
whereas other saints have died overclouded, as it 
were, with the shadow of God's judgments, while 
St. Romuald, St. John of God, and St. Cassian 
of Nami, died without witness of man. F. Con- 
M>lini the Oratorian, like Cardinal Bellarmine, 


seems to have prayed that he might not hxfe 
the use of his reason on his death-bed, that he 
might thus avoid being treated like a saint and 
receiying visits of honour from distinguished 
personages. This was indeed the dictate of hu- 
mility, but it also implies a confidence and 
spirit of abandonment which it makes one quite 
tremble to think of. To read the account of 
St. Andrew Avellino's death-bed, who would have 
supposed that from the loss of speech to ex- 
plain his temptations, it should actually have 
presented difficulties to the Congregation of 
Rites? A Saint himself, St. Alphonso Liguori, 
thus relates it : " They say of St. Andrew Avel- 
lino that at the time of his death there came 
ten thousand demons to tempt him. During 
his agony he had so fierce a conflict with hell 
that all his good religious who were by trembled 
with fear. They saw the Saint's agitated face 
all swollen, so that it became quite black; his 
limbs quivered, and beat one against another 
as in the palsy; floods of tears flowed from his 
eyes ; his head shook violently ; all signs of the 
horrible battle in which he was engaged. Every- 
one wept with compassion, redoubled their pray- 
ers for him, and yet trembled with fear to see 
that even a Saint should have to die thus. 
They consoled themselves however in seeing that 
the Saint often threw his eyes round, as if 
looking for some one to help him, and fixed 
them on a devout picture of our Lady, and they 
remembered that he had often said in his life- 
time, that Mary would have to be his refuge in 


the hour of death. At length it pleased Grod 
that the conflict should end in the glorious 
victory of his servant : the quiverings of his body 
ceased, the swelling of his face went down and 
its natural colour returned; thej saw him fix 
his eyes tranquilly upon the picture, and ma- 
king a reverent inclination to it, as though Mary, 
as was believed, appeared to him at the moment, 
and he intended to thank her for her aid, he 
breathed out his soul gently into our Lady's 
SLtmB with a smile of Paradise upon his fEice. 
At the very moment a Gapuchiness, also lying 
in her agony, turned to the nuns by her bed, 
and said. Say a Hail Mary, for at this moment 
a Saint has died."* Yet it was about this death- 
bed that the cool judgment and safe acuteness 
of the Congregation found room for doubt and 
hesitation; what confidence may we not have 
in processes which carry with them the weight 
of such an approbation? 

Of course it need hardly be added that the 
sins of the servants of God, and the signs of 
heroic repentance, are sought into with even a 
yet keener jealousy. Indeed a separate volume 
might be written, in which almost every duty 
of the diflferent relations of life might be illus- 
trated from the processes in these causes. It 
is enough to say that to the whole examination 
is given the character of the harshest criminal 
proceeding, with this significant difference, that 
the Congregation is reminded that there is no 

* Glorie di Maria, i. 94, 95. 


necessity of settling these causes in the face of 
a doubt; thej can be quashed, and silence im- 
posed, whereas in criminal trials some judgment 
must be given, and the doubt is in favour of 
the accused, whereas here it is decisive against 
the servant of God. The working of this is, 
as was intended, to strangle causes which are 
a little defective, as being the more safe method 
of procedure. The number of witnesses, the 
classification of their testimony, and the inge- 
nious interrogatoria sent from Rome into the 
country at the formation of the processes, aU 
increase the difficulty of getting a cause through 
the diflferent stages, and add proportionably to 
the weight of the judgment when given. Bene- 
dict XIV. accounts for the few Saints which 
the solitary orders have produced mainly to the 
difficulty of getting witnesses ; so that it seems 
as if those holy recluses sacrificed for the love 
of God some portion of their accidental glory 
in heaven as well as men's praise on earth. 
Indeed since the decrees of Urban Vlll., and the 
beautiful machinery which Clement XI. invent- 
ed for the Sacred Congregation of Rites, no 
human process (putting out of sight entirely 
the promised assistance of the Holy Ghost,) can 
be conceived more morally certain of discovering 

truth than the one instituted in the causes of 
beatification and canonization. 

Thus we have most ample guarantee in the 
case of every one whom the Church has either 
beatified or canonized, that they have been dis- 
tinguished by a calm, persevering, virtuous dis- 


charge of their relative duties, that all which 
men consider most solid and practical in moral 
goodness has been exhibited bj them even in 
an heroic degree, and that the extraordinary 
and unusual actions which thej have performed 
have only whetted the acuteness and more effec- 
tually aroused the jealous spirit of scrutiny in 
the ecclesiastical tribunals. The Sacred Con- 
gregation is not, as it were, dazzled, taken by 
surprise, and betrayed into a favourable decision 
by the brilliance of certain heroic feats, but 
works its way through masses of evidence and 
accumulated doubts with all the cautious moder- 
ation and diligent solemnity which we should 
expect to find where there was that deep sense 
of responsible co-operation implied in the pro- 
mise of the assisting presence of the Holy Spirit, 
Heroic virtue is in itself very liable to misappre- 
hension, even since the publication of the Chris- 
tian code of morals, and although the excellence 
of the evangelical counsels is of faith. Aristo- 
tle's idea of magnanimity is a picture of mon- 
ster virtue ; and most students of the Ethics 
will have come to the conclusion that the phil- 
osopher's magnanimous man would have been 
almost intolerable in society, and certainly both 
disliked and misunderstood, and he will be ready 
to join in poor Don Abbondio's querulous impa- 
tience with the " fidgettiness" of the Saints, 
when Manzoni brings him in the Promessi Sposi 
in contact with Frederic Borromeo. If the 
whole sum of the Christian life be to grow 
Christ-like, to conform ourselves to His Image, 


His Image as visible to us in the gracious mys- 
tery of the nicamation, if it be (speaking hu- 
manly,) to transfer ourselves into Him and 
His place, to make lOs will our will, His love 
and hatred our love and hatred too, and, at 
least in our attitude towards the world, to stand 
where He stood and as He stood, or, more truly 
and more awfully, where He stands and as He 
stands — if this be so, and if it be that Grod's 
ways are far above out of our sight ; then in pro- 
portion as the Saints grow towards His Image 
must their ways be just so far above our com. 
prehension as they are before us in grace. We 
cannot measure them by our measures ; we can- 
not bring them within our rules. Our tests will 
not always tell upon their characters, nor reveal 
what is involved and contained in their ways of 
acting. So far therefore ought we to be from 
that venturesome profaneness which mounts into 
the judge's seat to pass sentence on the Saints, 
that where we do not understand what their ac- 
tions mean, nay, even where we are perplexed and 
things look the wrong way, we ought to have a 
moral conviction, springing from humility, that 
even in proportion to the strangeness and the 
doubtfulness of an action, where Saints are con- 
cerned whose sanctity the judgment of the 
Church has put beyond the lawfulness of a 
doubt, is the likelihood or more than likelihood, 
that there is something heroic about it which 
we do not yet fathom ; and just for this simple 
reason that the Saint's ways are in their poor 
measure like God's ways, far above out of the 


sight of US who are below. Even they who are 
not irreligious, but are lagging behind, when 
they look upon the Saints see like the blind 
man in the Gospel only men as trees walking. 
All the Saints alike, whether they be anchorets 
of the desert, or missionary bishops, or martyr 
virgins, or pontiffs sanctifying themselves be- 
neath the bewildering pressure of affairs, all 
equally, as we read their Lives, present them- 
selves to us like St. Paul, as deceivers and yet 

But it may be asked, where are the limits 
to this ? They are to be found in this particular, 
that all these peculiarities do not in the main 
put a Saint beyond the embrace of our imita- 
tion, when under similar circumstances; and 
the members of the Congregation of Rites are 
supplied by Cardinal Bona and others with tests 
for discerning the rightness or wrongness of 
these strange actions, which, like Abraham's pro- 
ceeding to slay his son, are usually set down 
in the Saints to a special instinct of the Holy 
Spirit. First it is to be seen whether the rest 
of the Saint's life is eminent for sanctity, and 
in particular for patience and charity, whether 
there are any circumstances from which we may 
infer that the impulse was so vehement as to be 
morally irresistible, as in the case of St. Paul's 
conversion, whether peace and tranquillity of 
mind have followed the performance of the ac- 
tion, whether anything beyond the strength of 
nature has occurred in the action, and this Suarez 
illustrates by St. Benedict's giving an obedience 


to St. Maurus to walk on the water to Placidus, 
and Benedict XIV. by the admission of Jacoba 
Settesoli to the death-bed of St. Francis of Assisi 
in spite of the cloister; and, finally, as Cardinal 
Borromeo adds, whether the strange action has 
been successful. The precept of Almighty God to 
the prophet Osee about his wife, and to Abra- 
ham about his son, are of course the scripture 
exemplifications of these things. To all this 
might be added, if space would allow of it^ 
most curious illustrations of the ingenious jea- 
lousy of the ordeal through which the cause of 
the servant of God passes with regard to the 
claim of miraculous powers. We cannot do 
more here than remind the reader, that in order 
to avoid arguing in a circle, the virtues are re- 
quired to be proved independently of the mira- 
cles and without any support from them, that 
special jealousy is shown in the examination of 
miracles which do not surpass the power of in- 
visible natural powers, those e. g. of a good an 
gel, and that in many, if not in most cases, 
where several servants of God have been invo- 
ked, the subsequent miracle cannot be referred 
to any one of them in such way as to be avail- 
able in the cause, as in the case of the Seven 
Blessed Founders of the Servites.* Indeed we 
cannot do better than refer our readers to the 
treatment of St. John Francis Regis's miracles 
by the able and good Giovanni Maria Lancisio, 
who bequeathed his medical library and patrimo- 

• But see Bened. xiv. 1. iv. pt. 1. c. ▼. 16 et seqq. 


nj to the hospital of Santo Spirito, and who was 
employed by the Congregation of Rites as medi- 
cus pro veritate in the causes of the servants 
of God, and has left dissertations of great value 
on the miracles of St. James de la Marc he, St. 
Stanislas Eostka, and St. John Francis Regis. 

Indeed, putting out of view all idea of divine 
assistance, and looking at the matter simply as 
a question of evidence, it is hardly possible to 
conceive any process for sifting human testimo- 
ny more complete, more ingenious, or more rig- 
id than the one scrupulously adhered to by the 
Congregation of Rites in this respect. Much 
depends on the decision, and there is no neces- 
sity for coming to a decision at all; these two 
things are continually before the eyes of the 
judges, and render the ordeal one of almost in- 
credible strictness. No one can study the great 
work of Benedict XTV". on Canonization, or pe- 
ruse the decrees of Urban VIII. and Clement XI. 
without feeling the utmost confidence in any 
narrative of facts, however supernatural, which 
comes out of the trial confirmed and approved 
upon the whole : and we are now merely speak- 
ing of it as a question of human testimony which 
has come out undestroyed from the long, in- 
tricate, and jealous cross-questioning of a most 
ingeniously contrived system of cavil and objec- 
tion. A fact only requires the appearance of 
being supernatural to awaken against it every 
suspicion ; every method of surprise and detec- 
tion is at once in array against it ; it is allow- 
ed no mercy, no advantage of a doubt, and any 


thing rather than the benefit of clergy. All 
this really ^ves to Lives of Saints drawn from 
the processes a trust-worthiness which scarcely 
any other historical or biographical works can 
possess ; and enables them to claim from the 
reader at the very least a general confidence 
which he can hardly give to any other narrative 
of facts in the world. Let any one look at the 
way in which miracles are dealt with in the Con- 
gregation, their accurate division into three class- 
es, the necessity of what is called instantaneity 
in order to distinguish a miracle from a gratia^ 
the length of time required to prove the absence 
of relapse, which was thirteen years in the case 
of a nun cured of epilepsy by the Blessed Hy- 
acinta Marescotti, tmd is extremely long in hy- 
drophobia and some other complaints, the inter- 
rogatories, the requisites in witnesses, the pre- 
sence of the first physicians of Italy and their 
opinions in writing, and sundry other precau- 
tions. Many a candid Protestant would be sur- 
prised, if he only took the trou\»le to peruse a 
few of the processes of the Congregation in 
matters of beatification and canonization. But 
if we attempted to do justice to this subject, we 
should be led far beyond our present bounds: 
it will be enough here to subjoin a few cases in 

If, for instance, a case of recovery of sight is 
investigated, first of all, th6 blindness has to be 
proved, and whether the man was bom blind or 
became so afterwards ; secondly, the duration 
of the blindness ; thirdly, the recovery of sight 


With its qualities ; fourthly, the opinion of med- 
ical and scientific men has to be adduced as to 
the cause of the blindness, (if, that is to saj, it 
has not been since birth ;) fifthly, it is inquired 
whether it would be possible to attribute the 
recovery of sight to any natural cause without 
haying recourse to the idea of a miracle ; sixth- 
ly, whether the recovery was instantaneous, un- 
less it be a miracle of the second class, and then 
instantaneity is not a necessary requisite ; and 
if neither witnesses nor medical men can state 
the cause of the blindness, no decision can be 
Qome to. Hence in the causes of St. Agnes 
and Blessed Peter Fourrier, some miracles of this 
sort were rejected from their not being instan- 
taneous, and so possibly attributable to a natu- 
ral cause. They might be, and probably were, 
miracles before God, but they were wanting in 
the demonstration necessary to establish them 
as miracles before the Church. 

Again: when Benedict XTV. was promoter of 
the faith in the cause of the Blessed Hyacinta 
de' Marescotti, there was a case, already alluded 
to, of a nun cured of hereditary epilepsy after 
her twenty-fifth year, without having any crisis, 
or receiving any benefit from medical treat- 
ment; on the contrary, it appeared that the 
remedies which had been administered to her 
were of a deleterious character. The promoter 
objected that the process had been formed only 
eighteen months after the last paroxysm, and 
that the nun might be seized again, and there- 
fore that the miracle ought not to be approved; 



neither was it approved till after thirteen years 
had elapsed : and in the cause of St. James de 
la Marche, a miracle of this nature was rejected 
altogether. Again: in a case of hoemorrhage 
from a wound, staunched at the invocation of 
St. Stanislas, there was an appearance of exag- 
geration in the account of the witnesses, as ac- 
cording to the laws of science, death must on 
their own showing have preceded the invoca- 
tion. Lancisio, writing pro veritate and so 
against the miracle, admitted the exaggeration, 
but still allowed the matter to be miraculous for 
other reasons, and recommended the Congregation 
to admit it, but in vain ; it was rejected, on the 
ground that anything like a slur on the wit- 
nesses is always to be considered an insuperable 
objection in the Congregation. 

In like maimer after discussing the question 
of relapses, and with reference to the first mir 
acle proposed in the cause of St. John of the 
Cross, Benedict XIV. thus sums up: ''These 
things being premised, and the argument being 
confined to relapses strictiy understood, and to 
causes of beatification and canonization, and 
also to the approbation of miracles in them, in 
which approbation there is no question of re- 
lapse, unless the first healing has been perfect, 
absolute, without crisis, and instantaneous :— 
all this, I say, being promised, their opinion is 
to be followed who say that extreme strictness 
is to be used in ranking such cures among mir- 
acles ; for, although in themselves and before 
God they may be miracles, yet they do not ap- 


pear such before the Church. We must also pro- 
ceed with caution if any new cause of the dis- 
ease is alleged by way of getting rid of the idea 
of a relapse, and so bolstering up the miracle ; 
for medical men have always heaps of such 
causes ready at their fingers' ends ; so this 
must be sedulously discussed. All difficulty 
however will cease, if it can be made plain that 
the disease returned for the greater glory of God, 
or if the sick man prayed to be cured only for. 
a time ; and with these cautions the first mira- 
cle in the cause of St. John of the Gross was 
approved/' And later on he says, "The here- 
tics, James Sercels and Warenfels, after treat- 
ing on miracles, break out vehemently against 
the Roman Ghurch, charging her with an over 
great facility in approving miracles ; but if they 
will compare our rules and tests with their own, 
they will be obliged to confess that the scrutiny 
of the Holy See and Gatholic bishops in the 
matter of miracles is more severe than the one 
they themselves propose." 

The pious jealousy of the Gongregation might 
also be illustrated, and that most interestingly, 
not only by particular cases of its treatment of 
miracles, but also from its method of procedure 
in granting proper offices and masses. We 
might instance the whole history of the fluctua- 
ting controversy about the stigmata of St. Gath- 
erine of Sienna, the proper office of which with 
lections for the second nocturn is now granted 
to the Dominican order, and the dioceses of 
Sienna and Pisa besides. Deeply instructive 


examples might be drawn from the cases of the 
inyention of the Blood of Christ at Mantua, 
which was probably some that flowed miracu- 
lously from an image crucified by the Jews of 
Beyrout, the translation of the Alma Domus 
Lauretana, and our Lady of the Pilar. But we 
have surely said enough for our object, which is 
simply to breed confidence in the reader by 
proving to him the existence of jealousy, crit- 
icism, sifting of evidence, solemn, tardy, judicial 
recognition, and a continually operative sense 
of responsibility before God and the Church ; 
and thus to show him with what amount of 
modest assurance a supernatural biography drawn 
from the processes may fairly claim his confi- 
dence, his patience, and his respect. 

Having thus limited and qualified what might 
otherwise seem peremptory and exaggerated in 
the statement of our case, so far as it regards 
the performance of extraordinary actions and 
the exercise of nuraculous powers, and having 
endeavoured to gain the reader's kindly confi- 
dence by some samples of the way in which au- 
thorities go to work in investigating these mat- 
ters, let us pursue the main current of our ar- 
gument. Now we have before us in the one 
work of Benedict XIV. the cases of about two 
thousand and seventy-two servants of Grod con- 
sidered with reference to their cultus or claim 
of cultus from the Church : this is a rough enu- 
meration, which may be considered as falling 
short of the real number. Further, we maintain 
that in all these instances the exercise of mirac- 


tdous powers and the performance of actions 
which seem to lie beyond the limits of worldly 
prudence are manifest to a greater or less de- 
gree, and in all to a degree sufficiently striking 
to form a characteristic. The birth-places and 
residences of these holy persons are as various 
as the lands the sun shines upon; the ages in 
which they lived are as many in number as are 
the centuries which have elapsed since the com- 
ing of our Lord ; their rank and circumstances 
in life are about as various as the most versatile 
imagination can depict to itself; their biogra- 
phers are of all classes and of all turns of mind, 
and with all the diversified prejudices which 
their times, age, temper, or position could pro- 
duce ; the imprimaturs of these biographies 
vary in dignity from the rare eulogy of the 
Master of the Sacred Palace down to the simple 
Nihil obstat of the- Vicar-General of the least 
bishopric in the Brazils : but as the faith of 
these servants of God is one, and as the holy 
Church, whose children they are, is one, so are 
their miracles and the strange fashion of their 
heroic virtues one, and so is the instinct of the 
faithful to venerate them one also. 

It would therefore be quite irrelevant to our 
purpose to select individual cases of miracle, 
or so called eccentricity, either for defence or 
attack. They exist in such portentous multi- 
tude, and in such equally portentous diversity, 
that we may be quite content to turn the most 
ingenious and sceptical sifter of human evidence 
loose upon the mass, let him wreak all his angry 


craft upon it, and do his worst; and when he 
has gathered his spoil here and there, when he 
has done his long and mighty sum of subtrac- 
tion, how little success will he have had in 
bringing the mountain down! Let us even 
grant him — on the common principles of evi- 
dence it is the wildest of all improbabilities — 
a hundred cases out of every thousand, nay, 
five hundred out of every thousand, and such 
tens and hundreds of thousands remain, that 
we must come back to the old inquiry at last, 
what is to be thought of all this? what is to 
be done with all this? The mind is positively 
overshadowed by the number and variety of 
cases which remain, even after the most un- 
restricted process of diminution has been gone 
through. Tease, and tear, and worry the gigan- 
tic mass of historical evidence as we will ; make 
abatements for any amount of corruption, un- 
certainty, interpolation, forgery, superstition, and 
ignorance which the least modest exaction of 
an opponent could desire; assume any hypo- 
thesis of complicated systematic world-wide yet 
undetected fraud which we can muster credulity 
to swallow, and which would be far beyond what 
the scholarlike Bollandists would ask of us in 
behalf of their documents; lay bold hands on 
missal collects, breviary lections, martyrology 
and popes' decrees; and then after all we must 
sit down wearied and peevish with our thank- 
less and fruitless toil, and confronting* the tre- 
mendous pile of tough unmanageable evidence 
before us, with a heavy-hearted suspicion that 


ire may have been doing despite to the grace 
of God in His Saints, we shall be obliged to 
proceed to form some judgment or other which 
shall not be absolutely disrespectful to the mat- 
ter before us. 

Let it next be considered, that so far the 
weight of Church authority, whatever weight 
that authority may have in this particular sub- 
ject matter, has not been mingled with the ar- 
gument at all. It has been alluded to simply 
as one among other features of this overwhelm- 
ing mass of evidence ; but our argument so 
far is perfectly independent of it and separate 
from it. It is submitted to the rational, intelli- 
gent, and considerate judgment of our Protestant 
readers. On what has been said hitherto com- 
mon sense and common humility may conjointly 
pass their judgment without calling in theology 
to arbitrate at all. Let us now put the dilemma 
into which we have brought ourselves: — quanti- 
ties of the Lives of the Saints, full of these 
miraculous incidents and extraordinary actions, 
are published in almost every language in which 
the Gospel of Christ is preached ; they form the 
favourite reading of enthusiastic youth ; they 
are the staple books in religious refectories, at 
the evening recreation of holy nuns, in colleges, 
seminaries, and ardent noviciates ; the lections 
of the Breviary contain no insignificant number 
of anecdotes of a parallel sort; the mass and 
office of crowds of these Saints and Beati have 
been granted either to the universal Church, 
or to countries, or to dioceses, or to single cities. 


or to entire religious orders, or to separate pro- 
yinces and reforms of orders ; relics of these 
servants of God are in almost every country of 
Christendom, authenticated by the sign and seal 
of the cardinal vicar, with a formally expressed 
faculty from him to the possessors, " to keep the 
said relics about them, to give them to others, 
to distribute them out of Rome, and to expose 
them to the public veneration of the faithful in 
any church, oratory, or chapel whatsoever ;" the 
praising and revering of these relics is speci- 
fied by St. Ignatius in his sixth rule as one means 
of keeping ourselves in harmony with the mind 
of the Church ; anecdotes of these servants of 
Grod, many of them miraculous, many of them 
extraordinary, are found in the catechisms and de- 
votional books by which the youthful members of 
the Church are instructed, and upon which they 
are trained, and they are never quoted there ex- 
cept in terms of reverential eulogy. Now can 
anything be conceived which bears more direct- 
ly or with more important consequences upon the 
whole morality of the Universal Church? And 
can anything be imagined more awful than the 
idea that all this may be false, and that the 
Church may possibly err in the whole matter? 
Could there be a more complete triumph for the 
gates of hell than this, to have one perhaps who 
is a reprobate in the dungeons of hell, burning 
with hatred of God, and venerated upon the altars 
of the Universal Church, the pillar and ground 
of the truth ? " In the Church," says St. Thomas* 

* Quodlibet 9. qu. 7. art 16. 


*' there can be no damnable error ; but this 
would be a damnable error, if he were venera- 
ted as a Saint who was in reality a sinner." " It 
is of great importance/' says Melchior Canus,* 
"to the morals of the Church that you should 
know to whom you ought to pay the cultus of 
religion. Wherefore if the Church could err in 
these matters it might make a grievous slip in 
morals. For there is very little difference between 
paying cultus to a devil and doing it to a damn- 
ed person. So if the Church should enact a 
law of abstinence which was opposed either to 
reason or the Gospel, she would truly have erred 
disgracefully. Thus also she would err disgrace- 
fully in the doctrine of morals if she were to 
pass a law ordering cultus to be paid to one 
who was not a fit object of it ; for this would 
be at variance at once with reason and the Gos- 
pel." The text of the canon law says precisely 
the same:t "Whosoever shall call the just 
mijust, and the unjust just, is abominable be- 
fore God. Likewise he who says that a Saint 
•is not a Saint, or on the other hand declares 
that he who is not a Saint is a Saint, is abom- 
inable before God;" and "Whosoever believes 
a man to be a Saint who is not one, and joins 
him to the society of God, he violateth Christ,**^ 
Thus the Pope and his Sacred Congregations 
setting the example, general councils not reclaim- 
ing but rather acting similarly themselves, the 
immense Catholic episcopate consenting, the ap- 

* 1. o. c. 5. concl. 3. t Can. 57. X Can. £8. 


proved religious orders ^ding and abetting — 
moral principles of dubious propriety and truth- 
fulness, false examples of uncertain discretion 
and of unsound evidence, deleterious objects of 
imitation, and possible execrable objects of prayer, 
and a whole tone of thought, devotion, and feel- 
ing corrupt to its core and dangerous in the 
extreme, are the food wherewith the universal 
Church nourishes her youth, and replenishes her 
convents and her seminaries ! Where, if not 
here, have we a right to look with sober expec- 
tancy for the unfailing assistance of the Holy 
Ghost ? Where, if not here, may we not repose 
implicit confidence in the unerring voice of our 
spiritual Mother? Alas! who would not start 
back in amazement and in horror, if he looked 
upon the vast fields of Christendom, calculated 
the amount of this particular literature under 
consideration, pondered its tremendous influence 
and its far-seen consequences on and on into 
generations yet unborn, weighed the variety and 
importance of the papal, episcopal, and academ- 
ical sanctions given to it — and then was told 
that all this might be wrong, was actually fal- 
lible? Surely they who would make the infal- 
libility of the Pope's ex-cathedra decrees depend 
upon their subsequent, at least tacit, acceptance 
by the universal Church, have here a case in 
point where the acceptance is not only not tacit, 
but where cardinals, bishops, prelates, doctors, 
religious orders, universities, and the courts of 
Catholic sovereigns, are vyeing to magnify the 
decrees of canonization, to extend their conse- 


quences, and to publish them with more than 
rojal or imperial pomp. Either all this, in the 
main and as a systemy is true, or else the morals 
of the Catholic Church are eaten away to their 
very core. All this was going on before the 
Holy Council of Trent, yet we have no reclama- 
tion, but the contrary; it was actually system- 
atized, and accidental abuses and extravagances 
retrenched by Urban VIII. and Clement XI., and 
greater finish and nicety given here and there 
by almost every succeeding pontiflf, and Urban's 
Decrees, enforced by the Holy Roman Inquisition, 
have been everywhere received. If the Church 
is not committed in this matter to some extent^ 
(to what extent will appear afterwards,) then lan- 
guage has ceased to have a meaning and common 
sense to be a guide. 

Having thus looked at the question as involv- 
ing the consent of the universal Church and im- 
plicating her in it, let us gather the matter up, 
where a theologian would most naturally look for 
it, to the proper and divine seat of the Church's 
imerring decrees, to the blessed Chair of Peter, 
where the pilot sits and wields the Spirit-guided 
helm. The horns of our dilemma will then be 
put thus: Either this claim, exercise and fre- 
quency of miraculous powers is in the main true, 
(for we have shown that the criticism of indi- 
vidual cases is irrelevant to the question from 
the very overpowering abundance of the evidence) 
or it is in the main false, and these actions lying 
beyond the pale of human prudence and the or- 
dinary conventions of worldly wisdom, are either 


in the main reprehensible, or they are in the main 
in some cases the fruits of a special instinct of 
the Holj Ghost, and in other cases exemplifica- 
tions of virtue practised in an heroic degree. K 
the one is false and the other are reprehensible, 
then it is hard to conceive a case of more widely 
extended moral mischief, or one in which it would 
be more natural that we should hear the warning 
and rebuking voice of the Holy See. Yet what 
has been really the case ? Urban VIII. has given 
the fullest of all sanctions to it by specifying 
and retrenching the abuses which had arisen in 
connexion with it; for no sanction is so clearly 
exempt from all suspicion of inadvertence or 
surprise as a specific reform.* Sixtus V., in con- 
firming the decree of the canonization of St. Di- 
dacus, spoke for a whole hour in proof of the 
infallibility of the decree. The decrees of can- 
onization and beatification never light on any 
one whose life has not been distinguished in the 
two respects mentioned ; many of the decrees 
relate instances in point with great applause; 
the office often contains others, when there are 
proper lections to the second nocturn; so that 
the Church by her Head actually, on the hypo- 
thesis of the adversary, holds up to the admi- 
ration and mutatis mutandis to the imitation 
of all her children what is either false, or su- 
perstitions, or foolish, or dubious, or all these 
things together. The pastors and doctors of 

* See particularly the Constitution of that pope, SanctUas sua; 
al80 Constitut. 39, given in 1625, the Declaratio of the 8ame given 
in the October of the same year ; and Constitut. 134, given in 1634. 


the Church receive and applaud; the faithful 
embody it all in numberless devotions ; and so 
the whole Body of Christ teaches and receives 
(according to the different views of opponents,) 
a possible, a probable, or an actual falsehood, 
one too whose roots are most intimately entwin- 
ed with the whole of morals, and thus the gates 
of hell have triumphed in the most complete 
and brilliant manner over the immaculate Bride 
of Christ. If this bewildering notion be too 
horrible to be true, as no Catholic when he sees 
it thus drawn out will doubt for a moment, then 
it must needs be that this claim, exercise, and 
frequency of miraculous powers is in the main 
true, and these actions lying beyond the pale 
of human prudence and the ordinary conven- 
tions of worldly wisdom, in the main fruits of a 
special instinct of the Holy Ghost or exemplifi- 
cations of virtue practised in an heroic degree. 

This is all we claim for the Lives of the 
Saints : and if this be not true, what third road 
is there between the horns of this dilemma? 
Be it well remembered that we only speak of 
these miracles and extraordinary actions in the 
main. We leave each particular instance of 
them free to criticism, free to be weighed by 
the merits of its own evidence, with the light 
of its own probability and nothing more around 
it. Of course, in saying this it is manifest that 
we must except the particular miracles quoted 
by the Holy See in its decrees ; whatever weight 
that approbation may have, and which we have 
yet to examine, all Catholics will agree in the 


indecencj of making those particular miracles 
the subject of doubt or contestation ; for even 
those who seem to have doubted the right of the 
Church to pronounce infalliblj in the matter of 
canonization in the general, have added that no 
one can impugn any given decree in particular 
without being guiltj of scandal and impiety. 
But bating these few thousand cases, we claim 
nothing more for the matter in question, than 
the general admission required above. No doubt 
some biographers are more judicious, more crit- 
ical, more discerning than others ; some are 
more free from the prejudices of locality or the 
kindly esprit de corps of a religious order than 
others ; and for this reason we have in the pre- 
sent Series preferred Lives written later^ and 
from the calmly sifted judicial processes, to such 
as have been composed on the spot where the 
Saint died, and amid the first effervescence of 
popular devotion, a proceeding diametrically op- 
posed to the conduct one should have pursu- 
ed in reference to any other biographies, where 
the works of contemporaries and fellow-country- 
men are selected rather than others. Still the 
general tone, the general prevalence of the su- 
pernatural, the perpetual recurrence of these 
extraordinary and unusual modes of action, re- 
main the same : give the largest allowance you 
please to ^he prejudices and tempers of biogra- 
phers, as before to the possibility of fraud and 
error, the huge mass of facts is so little dimin- 
ished that it continues in the main to be the 


same, most powerfully influencing doctrine, and 
still more powerfullj influencing morals. 

Having thus stated the case in its principal 
bearings, we may now advance to the grand 
practical questions involved in it. It follows 
from the very intimate connexion between ha- 
giology and morals, that there is no subject- 
matter in the handling of which calmness, cau- 
tion, and discretion are more imperatively re- 
quired ; sound and judicious criticism ought to 
be applied; the utmost carefulness shown to 
claim no more authority for a thing than it 
really possesses or may fairly vindicate to 
itself. A man ought to labour in such a work 
under an abiding sense of the responsibility 
which he is incurring ; and must first ascertain 
to himself as well as he is able, not the intrin- 
sic goodness of his end only, but the propriety 
of attempting it imder given time, place, and 
circumstances. All that was done under the 
pontificate of Urban VIII. and by Cardinal 
Lambertini himself when he was raised to the 
papal throne, shows how carefully the authori- 
ties of the Church would have a man pick his 
way amidst the dangers which beset so delicate 
a subject-matter; and when he has done all 
that prudence and deliberation and the coun- 
sel of pious and learned men can suggest, there 
still remains to be continued what he must have 
started with — earnest prayer, and a most humble 
submission of the whole, not to the judgment 
of the Church only, but also to that of his im- 
mediate superiors. Such we may conceive to 


haye been the temper of mind in which the 
Bollandists entered upon their generous and 
edifjing labours ; but how few are there who 
would venture to look upon themselves as thus 
qualified either to write original Lives of Saints, 
or to make compilations where their own eru- 
dition, criticism, and discretion would have to 
co-ordinate and give a character to the whole! 
Hence came the peculiarities of the present 
Series. Suggested and encouraged, nay, almost 
eagerly forwarded, by many wise and eminent 
men, it was remembered from the first that so 
delicate a subject was it, so prolific at all times 
in giving offence in this or that direction, that 
even in the beginning of St. Philip Neri's Ora- 
tory one of his serious troubles arose from the 
very fact of his being falsely delated to the Pope, 
for permitting indiscreet narrations of extraor- 
dinary actions of the Saints in the discourses 
at San Girolamo. It was on this account that 
seven rules were laid down for the conduct of 
the present Series, in order to avoid as much 
as possible all exercise of editorial private 
judgment, and to make it as safe and abundant 
in edification as imder many disadvantageous 
circumstances it could be ; and the extensive 
and rapidly extending sale of the volumes seems 
as it were to have given an approbation to the 
peculiar features of the undertaking. 

1. It was resolved to choose translations rather 
than original works, in order that what was 
inevitably forfeited in pure style and spirited 
narrative might be more than compensated by 


the absence of indiscreet criticism, offensive 
apology, and all expression of individual opinion ; 
and it was laid down as a rule, that, as far 
as possible, the Lives of the Saints distinguished 
for outward and active charity should precede 
those more peculiarly mystical and supernatural. 
It need hardly be said that in a work of such 
magnitude Editors cannot always control the 
coming in of manuscript, and this rule it has 
been found impossible to adhere to as strictly 
as could be wished. 

2. It was considered a duty, to be scrupulously 
faithful to the originals translated, not in the 
way of literal translation, for this is often the 
worst of infidelities, but in carefully giving the 
whole work, except in the case of additional 
or irrelevant matter, and the fact and amount 
of that omission to be accurately stated in each 
case. Otherwise what confidence could be re- 
posed in the work? On what principle shall 
we pick and choose? who will commission us 
to exercise this latitudinarian right to cut down 
or omit or change? Shall we not mutilate, 
nay, in effect, falsify, history? Are we not 
arrogantly constituting ourselves judges of ac- 
credited authors, exercising a censorship over 
censors who have already pronounced their 
Nihil obstat, and taking even more upon our- 
selves than if we had ourselves composed orig- 
inal Lives of the Saints? The humble office 
of truthful translators seemed the one best cal- 
culated for the object in view, and our ambition 
has not gone beyond it. 



3. Pains were to be taken to select such 
biographies as were held in esteem in Catholic 
countries, and widely circulated among the 

4. In all cases imprimaturs were to be looked 
to as guides in this selection. 

5. The Lives drawn up for or from the processes 
were always to be preferred, although often with 
less literary attractiveness about them than Lives 
written with more freedom. The object of the 
Series is rather spiritual than literary; and as 
all masters of the spiritual life tell us that the 
biographies of the Saints should be read slowly, 
pausatim and a little at a time, the style of 
the processes seemed in some degree more suit- 

6. Notes were to be avoided as much as possi- 
ble, as so many vents of private opinion, and 
involving more or less the office of critic or 
censor; and quite sufficient literary scope for 
this, so far as it might be necessary, could be 
given in the Preface. 

7. The whole was to be submitted to the au- 
thority of immediate superiors, and the Series 
put in every respect under their absolute con- 
trol: and certainly so far as a judgment can 
be formed from outward appearances, the success 
of the Series has been beyond what the most 
sanguine promoters of it could have anticipated, 
both in the way of sale, of numerous expres- 
sions of sympathy and encouragement from those 
who have been edified by it, together with some 
singular confessions on the part of inquirers still 


out of the True Fold of the attracting influence 
which it has had upon them in favour of Catho- 
lic doctrine and practices. May Almighty God 
vouchsafe to bless it still more as a weak in- 
strument for His greater glory in the hearts and 
secret lives of men ! 

Such were the reflections which gave rise to 
the Series, and such the principles on which it 
was to be conducted. But a thoughtful man, 
who may have been in some degree impressed 
by what has been said, may reasonably urge, 
^* All this may be very true ; but if I am to al- 
low these biographies to exercise an influence 
on my faith and practice, if I am to let confi- 
dence succeed to jealousy, and permit them to 
tell upon my tone and habits of mind as I see 
them tell upon those of others, by what practi 
cal canons shall I be guided ? How shall I reg- 
ulate this influence? what standard of appeal 
shall I have? what simple tests, easy to com- 
prehend and always ready at hand, shall I habi- 
tually apply to any difficulties which may arise 
in my journey through this confessedly super- 
natural land ? " Let us try to discover such 

In reading the Lives even of canonized Saints 
a man may frequently meet with instances of 
the supernatural, and of seemingly eccentric 
conduct, which to his peculiar temperament 
seem unlikely, indiscreet, startling, ludicrous, 
perhaps offensive, though his humility would 
hardly allow him to commit himself to such 
words. Now it is true the Saint is canonized. 


and he would not for the world venture upon 
anything like sitting in judgment upon the 
Church ; but the offending points are not men- 
tioned in the decrees one way or another ; there 
is no judgment of the Church about them; it 
only so far tells upon them that they cannot 
(supposing them authentic) be dismissed with 
contempt or disrespect ; but otherwise they are 
quite open to criticism. The reader is obvious- 
ly free to use his own judgment both on the 
credibility and on the edifying character of the 
anecdotes in question : — ^how shall his judgment 
proceed? On some such principles as the fol- 
lowing, which we venture to lay down, as safe 
and prudent, and steering clear of anything 
like puerile credulity on the one hand, and pro- 
fane rashness with the Saints of God on the 
other. But before we begin let us remind the 
reader of an anecdote in the Life of St. Philip 
Neri, which contains an apposite lesson.^ " Na- 
tale Rondanini, doctor of Faenza, was one day 
reading the Life of the Saint, and was come 
to the chapter where it is said that Philip 
having fallen into a deep moat as he was 
carrying bread to a poor family, was seized 
by the hair by an angel, and delivered from 
that danger; and also farther on he read how 
that Pope Clement VIIL was cured of ^ the 
gout. Now he was a little incredulous about 
this, and many doubts passed through his mind 
as to whether these two circumstances were true 

• Vol. II. p. 261. 


or not ; wherefore the Saint appeared to him in 
the night in a dream, clad in a bright and glit- 
tering yestment, and gently rebuked him for 
his lack of faith, in doubting whether what he 
had read of him in his Life were true. Natale, 
trembling and quaking, repented him of his un- 
belief, and the Saint's admonition was so deep- 
ly impressed on his mind, that oyer afterwards, 
it mattered not who was present, when he heard 
persons reasoning about the Saints or their mir- 
acles, he would say to them, 'Play with chil- 
dren, but let the Saints alone.' '' 

I. Analogy with the faith. This would be the 
first criterion. A man who went to work with 
the wary reyerence befitting the subject, would 
first look to see how far the facts which start- 
led him were in analogy with the faith ; if they 
were not, then the probabilities against them 
would be immensely increased ; of course in the 
case of actual discrepancy they would be at 
once rejected with scorn; if they were in anal- 
ogy with the faith, then the duty of still farther 
suspending his judgment would be obyious, and 
he would haye no difficulty in acknowledging it. 
Thus, for example, the miraculous things found 
in the heart of St. Clare of Montefalco are in 
analogy with the Catholic doctrine of the Holy 
Trinity, and were a strikingly beautiful illustra- 
tion of it. St. Philip Neri's discerning a youth 
to be a priest by the shining of the sacerdotal 
character on his forehead is plainly in anology 
with the faith. The same may be said of in- 
stances of a beautiful Infant appearing in Hosts, 


and similar occurrences, quite in anology with 
the faith, that is, such as we might naturally 
expect on the hypothesis that the faith was true. 
Hence when John the Deacon tells us, and even 
an author bearing the name of St. John Dam- 
ascene gives his countenance to the storj, that 
St. Gregory the Great was said by his prayers 
to have delivered the soul of the Emperor Tra- 
jan from hell, we reject the story, because it is 
not in analogy with the faith.* St. Antiochust 
tells us of a monk on Mount Sinai^ famous 
for chastity, who had a vision in which he 
saw the souls of the Apostles and Saints in 
dense darkness, and the souls of the Jews in 
shining light. Whereupon he apostatized from 
Christianity and became a Jew, because he pri- 
zed his false vision above the analogy of the 
faith. So when it was deposed of St. Dominic, 
St. Theresa, and St. Louis Gonzaga, that they 
had never had a temptation against purity, it 
was received with most unkindly but judicious 
suspicion by the Congregation, as seemingly out 
of analogy with the faith. When St. Bernardino 
of Sienna, at the beginning of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, introduced the cultus of the Holy Name 
of Jesus, he was accused to the Pope of intro- 
ducing a new and suspected cultus, and it re- 
quired all the eloquence and ability of St. John 

* John the Deacon expressly says that this legend was unknown 
in Rome, and existed only among the English: and the Oratio 
de Mortuis is not St. John Damascene's, and directly contradicU 
what he says. De Fide 1. 2. e. 4. 

t Horn. 86. 


Gapistran to lull the suspicion, so jealous are 
they in the Holy City, and even so perseveiing- 
ly incredulous, where there is any appearance 
of swerving from the analogy of the faith. In- 
deed nothing can illustrate this better than the 
fact, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are made 
by theologians to rank after the theological vir- 
tues, and find their place between those and the 
moral virtues.. 

n. Analogy with the received opinion of doctors 
and the faithful. This is of course a less certain 
criterion than the last ; but it is a very safe 
one, which could not be overlooked without great 
rashness and imprudence. Anything superna- 
tural adduced as evidence for some innovation 
in opinion and practice, would be regarded with 
great jealousy, and the authors of it be treated 
with harshness by their lawful superiors. Still 
it would not be necessarily false ; instances in 
point may be found in the institution of the 
two Feasts of Corpus Christi and the Sacred 
Heart, and the sufferings of St. Juliana of Re- 
tinue and the Yen. Margaret Mary Alacoque, in 
consequence of the revelations made to them re- 
garding those feasts. But when the supernatural 
fact is in analogy with the received opinion, it 
presents itself under auspices which are favour- 
able just in proportion to the degree of certainty 
and reception which the opinion itself enjoys. 
Thus when Baronius in a dream saw our Lord 
refuse St. Philip Neri's request, and the Saint 
obtain it by turning to our Blessed Lady, this 
was in striking analogy with the common opin- 


ion.* Along with this may be classed in the 
way of contrast the account St. Francis Xavier 
^ves us of a man who had kept something back 
in confession seeing himself led by the In^Eint 
Jesus to our Blessed Lady, who rejected him 
as haying sins on his conscience sacrilegiously 
withheld in confession; the Saint haying at 
the same time the same yision of the man's re- 
jection represented to himself. The same may 
be said of the answer St. Stanislas Kostka 
receiyed in prayer, that he should spend the 
ensuing Feast of the Assumption with our Blessed 
Lady in heayen; the late lamented bishop of 
the London district, Dr. Griffiths, expressed the 
same wish with touching earnestness shortly be- 
fore his death ; and in the same connexion we 
might quote the story of Father Diego Martinez, 
the Jesuit, bekig carried by the angels into hea- 
yen, to see with what splendour the feasts of our 
Blessed Lady were obseryed there. All this is . 
in analogy with the common opinion of her as- 
sumption, and of the great feasts of the Church 
Militant, being in some way noted in the Church 
Triumphant. The yision in the Campidoglio at 
Rome, related by the great St. Peter Damian, 
in which it was reyealed that our Blessed Lady 
took out of Purgatory eyery Feast of her Assump- 
tion, as many souls as there were inhabitants in 

* We may quote here a passage of St. Antoninns. 4 pt. tit. 17. 
sec. 5. *' The prayer of the Saints rests on nothing of their own, 
but only on the mercy of Grod. But the prayer of the Virgin rests 
on the grace of God by natural right, and on evangelical Justice. 
For the Son is not only bound to honour His n^o^her but to obey 
her, which is de jure natune." 


Rome, is a similar instance. So St. Malachj's 
triple yision of his sister, related by St. Bernard, 
is used eyen by Bellarmine, as helping to prove 
a gradual diminution of the pains of purgatory. 
Thus many of the events of the life of the 
glorious St. Francesca Romana are equally in 
analogy with the commonly-received opinions 
about the holy angels and the demons. When 
Erasmus tells us that St. Francis appeared to 
bim in a vision, and thanked him for rating 
those who set any value on being buried in 
the Franciscan habit, we join with Benedict 
XIV. in rejecting it either as a falsehood or 
delusion, because it £eu1s when this test is ap- 
plied to it. It came out in evidence before 
the Congregation that a certain holy Floren- 
tine woman had in her private prayers recom- 
mended herself to Jerome Savonarola. Ben- 
edict XrV., then promoter of the faith, main- 
tained she had sinned, because, in spite of all 
the apologies made for him, it was acknowledg- 
ed that he had been delivered to the secular 
arm, strangled, and burnt at Florence, and this 
after the judges, delegated by Alexander VI., 
had issued a process against him. The postu- 
lators in reply, besides throwing a doubt over 
Lambertini's facts, met the objection as one the 
force of which consisted in showing that the holy 
woman had acted contrary to the received opin- 
ion of the character of Savonarola. They main- 
tained that his contemporaries had regarded him 
as a holy man, that he had died in the commu- 
nion of Rome, after receiving the Sacraments 


and taking the plenary indulgence at the hour 
of death, and that Suarez teaches that a person 
is to be excused from sin who pays private 
cultus to one of whose eternal salyation there 
is a strong probability.* But their chief answer 
was that St. Philip Neri, already canonized, kept 
in a cupboard of his room a picture of Savonarola 
with rays round his head, and as GaUonio tells 
us, when the controversy arose about condenming 
Savonarola's works, St. Philip prayed that they 
might not be prohibited, and God revealed to 
him that they would not be so. The majority 
voted for the postulators, and Benedict XTTT. 
imposing silence on any farther discussion of her 
prayers, ordered them to proceed with the cause 
of this holy woman, which Clement XTT. con- 

III. DissimiUtvde to heresy or fanaticisnL 
This again is a criterion of inferior accuracy to 
either of the preceding ones ; first, because of 
the very nature of heresy, which is a distorted 
caricature of the truth ; and secondly, because 
of the well-known artifice of the devil, by which 
he strives to deceive the servants of God 
through crafty imitations of holy things and the 
disguises of angels of light, whereby if he should 
fail of deceiving, he may at least throw a slur 
over things which are really true. Thus the 
so-called suicide of St. Apollonia is agreed upon 
by all to have been a special movement of the 
Holy Ghost, notwithstanding its outward resem- 

* See also Ferrais sub vocab. Tencrat. Sancton 


blance to the fanaticism of the Donatists and 
others. Still this criterion is of great value, 
although not unerring; and a man would be 
bound in prudence to stand back from anything 
which had even the look of heresy or fanaticism. 
It was by the application of this test that the 
wise St. Francis discovered the real character 
of the friar who was in the enjoyment of a 
great reputation for sanctity. The Saint was 
told by the monk's superior that his subject 
had a miraculous attrait for silence ; but no 
sooner did the holy patriarch learn that the 
man carried it so far as to abstain from sacra- 
mental confession, than he discerned the delu- 
sion, and predicted the end of the wretched 
apostate. When causes of female servants of 
God are before the Congregation, inquiry is 
made whether they have made use even of their 
gifts gratis data only ad privatam doctrinam ; 
the opposite conduct being an especial mark of 
heresy and fanaticism. St. Ignatius, as superior, 
used to give his fathers and brothers extremely 
long penances for very trivial faults ; upon 
which a question is raised as to whether this is 
zeal for the spirit of observance, or simple im- 
prudence. Indeed all the exemplifications of the 
two difficult virtues of zeal and anger in the 
Saints, especially the latter, have first of all to 
pass this test now under review. Thus St. 
Francis Xavier in a transport of zeal caused 
the house of one of his eastern neophytes to be 
burned down, because sacrifice had been offered 
to an idol in it. The same Saint having con- 


ceiyed the design of going to China in order to 
gain that empire to Jesus Christ, his voyage 
was hindered by the goyernment of Malacca. 
St. Francis did all he could to gain the goyer- 
nor, but gentleness haying failed, he assumed 
his character as apostolical legate and laid the 
city under an interdict, ordered all the Jesuit 
fathers to leaye the place, cursed those who had 
caused his journey to be stopped, and then 
shook the dust from off his feet at the gate of 
the city and left it. No sooner was he gone 
than the plague broke out; the goyemor, ac- 
cused of sundry crimes at court, was arrested, 
sent to Portugal, and died of a broken heart in 
prison. When Adam Clarke shook the dust off 
his feet against the Cornish farmers, it was 
mainly the arrogance arising from lack of mis- 
sion which distinguished his conduct from that of 
the great St. Francis. The patriarch St. Fran- 
cis of Assisi, yisiting the houses of his order in 
Tuscany, found that in one monastery the young 
friars spent too much time in philosophical dis- 
putes, which he judged contrary to the spirit of 
prayer and the religious life. He ordered the 
proyincial to correct that; he promised to do 
so, but St. Francis, discoyering afterwards that 
he had not fulfilled his promise, cursed him. 
The proyincial fell ill, and sent to beg his supe- 
rior's pardon ; the Saint's answer was, " I haye 
cursed him, and he shall be cursed,*' at which 
words a bolt fell from heayen, and killed the 
proyincial on his bed. It is plain that such 
anecdotes as these may contain examples of he- 


roic virtue, but from their outward resemblance 
to fanaticism a man would rigorouslj sift their 
authenticity, and that being established, he 
would require nothing short of the recognized 
holiness of a canonized Saint in order to render 
them approved,* 

lY. Harmony tvUh what is recorded of other 
Saints, This is obviously a common sense cri- 
terion; it is the multiplication of witnesses in 
order to strengthen a case, and it is very observ- 
able that the evidence of hagiology is not only 
formidable from its mass, but from its singular 
coherence also. If we meet with anything start- 
ling in the Lives of holy men who have died in 
the odour of sanctity, and then find the same re- 
corded of one, two, three, or more of the can- 
onized Saints, reason tells us that if this be 
not actually enough to overrule our objection, 
it is enough to make us suspend our judgment. 
It breeds in us the same sort of feeling we have 
when we discover the similarity between the 
Old Testament miracles and those of our Sa- 

* It may be weU to quote here the words of Father Sarin about 
the anger of the Saints. Cat. Spir. ii. 249. '* We ought to remark 
that these moveqients of indignation which come from God, and 
have God for their object, cause no trouble in the soul, but leave 
it as free and as tranquil as though it were in a movement of 
J07. We may say in general of anger, what we have already 
said of sadness and hatred, that when it is grace which forma 
them in the heart, they not only do not remove God from us, but 
unite us to Him, and dispose us to prayer, just as much as a 
heavenly consolation could do. The reason is, that it is not self-< 
interest which touches us, nor any satisfaction of our own, which 
affects the soul in these conjunctures, but the sole interest of 
God, whom alone we desire to please." 


yiour, and again the likeness of the apostles* 
and martyrs' miracles to His. It is the same 
thing in kind, though of course infinitely lower 
in degree. If, for example, a man reads in the 
Life of a poor frail nun that our Lady acted as 
porteress for her, in order that her flight from 
the convent might not be discovered till she 
came back in penitence, such an extremely 
startling anecdote^ gets at least a kind of indi- 
rect respectability from the fact solemnly record- 
ed in the Breviary lections for the feast of St. 
Felix of Valois, viz. that, the rest of the monks 
oversleeping themselves, our Blessed Lady came 
down into the church to St. Felix, dressed in 
the habit of his order, and assuming the post 
of cantor, she, the Saint, and some angels sang 
the divine office alternately, and that St. Felix 
satisfied his obligation by this unearthly choir. 
Again: if a man reads that our Blessed Lord 
has vouchsafed to put the Wound of His Side 
to the mouth of some holy uncanonized nun, 
and allowed her to drink therefrom a " spiritual 
nectar," he cannot quite so immediately dis- 
miss the matter when he finds the same favour 
claimed for the canonized Rose of Lima, and, 
in an instance so famous as to be classical, for 
St. Catherine of Sienna. Again: if a reader 
is shocked in the Life of Rosa Maria Serio, the 
Carmelitess, by learning how St. John the 
Evangelist took her heart out of her side, and 

* Quoted by Scaramelli (f^om Theoph. Baymuncl. Mirac. 1. 7. 
c. 35.) in the Direttorio Ascetico. T. 1. art. XI. c. VI. 


how our Ladj squeezing some drops of black 
blood out of it, applied it to the Heart of Jesus, 
and it was then replaced filled with the fire of di- 
vine loYOy he will find the recorded experience of 
St. Bridget, St, Gertrude and St. Lidwino 
stand, very much in the way of anything like 
an off-hand rejection of the story, especially 
with the well-known case of the Holy Ghost 
entering the heart of St. Philip Neri as a ball 
of fire, breaking his ribs, and causing a miracle 
of many years* duration in order to keep the 
Saint in life and action. Thus also the Bol- 
landists make classifications of Saints, from 
certain miraculous qualities which have been 
common to a great number of them; as in the 
case of the Elseophori,* or " ointment-dropping " 
Saints. Thus if any one felt a difficulty about 
believing that miraculous and healing oil flowed 
from the remains of St. Walburga, the difficulty 
of rejecting it would be not a little increased 
by finding the same property claimed for St. 
Andrew the Apostle, St. Matthew the Evan- 
gelist, St. Lawrence the Martyr, St. John the 
Merciful, St. Demetrius of Thessalonica, St. 
Nicolas of Myra, St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth of 
Hungary, St. Euphemia of Byzantium, and the 
Tuscan St. Agnes. Thus also some might be 
offended at St. Philip Neri's contemptuous way 
of casting out devils, sending others to do it, 
with light words, and so forth ; but they might 
think the Saint had some meaning in it, when 

* Life of St Bichvd the Saxon, pp. 95. 97. Toovey'a Collection. 


they found the great St. Francis Xavier doing 
the same, sending little bojs tP hang his cross 
round the neck of the possessed, or to speak 
scornful words. Then again, some Saints seem 
to have been raised up bj God as counterparts 
of other Saints ; St. Rose of Lima, for example, 
stands in that relation to St. Catherine of 
Sienna. In like manner, when we read of St. . 
Francesco di Paola, that he knew he should be 
canonized, it seems difficult to conceive how 
such a foreknowledge as this should not inter- 
fere with the liberty of his actions, or at 
least make some of his yoluntarj humilia- 
ations look insincere and merely dramatic; 
yet the probability of such a revelation is 
much increased when we read that it was 
also granted to St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Philip 
Neri, and St. Andrew Avellino. Any one who 
stumbles at being told that St. Anthony of 
Padua was a Saint from his childhood, will be 
more inclined to believe it when he hears the 
same of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, St. Felix of 
Valois, St. Rose of Lima, and the Blessed Co- 
lomba of Rieti. If it seems unlikely that our 
Blessed Lady should have personally assisted 
at the death-bed of St. Clare from the very sin- 
gularity of such a privilege, we naturally think 
more of it when the same is recorded of St. 
Felix of Cantalice, St. Clare of Montefalco, St. 
Theresa, St. Peter of Alcantara, St. John of 
God, and as it would seem from a previous 
anecdote, St. Andrew Avellino. The same may 
be said of the Saints who exercised dominion 


oyer the elements and inanimate nature, as St. 
Peter Igneus, St. Chunegunde, Tiburtius, who 
snffered in the Diocletian persecution, St. Fran- 
cis of Paul, St. Peter of Alcantara, St. Louis 
Bertrand, St. John of God, and those mention- 
ed by St. Gregory the Great* over fire, others 
oyer the production of fountains, others oyer trees 
and flowers, and the like. Familiar intercourse 
with spirits, splendour flowing from the face, 
the being raised into the air at prayer, and mul- 
tiplying proyisions, are almost uniyersal in all 
Saints and holy persons who haye had the gift 
of miracles at all ; so that we must admit them 
at once simply on the principles of human eyi- 
dence. The same may almost be said of mi- 
raculous passages oyer riyers and arms of the 
sea, such as were those, among many others, 
of St. Maurus, St. Bono, St. Peter of Alcantara, 
St. Hyacinth, and St. Francis of Paul. If any 
person were offended by an instance of it in one 
neither canonized nor eyen beatified, he would 
proceed warily when he found that the sixth 
lection in the Roman Breyiary for the feast of 
St. Raymond of Pennafort contained the account 
of his sailing one hundred and sixty miles in 
six hours upon his cloak from Majorca to Bar- 
cellona, and then entering his conyent through 
closed dpors. It is true that the Church does 
not guarantee the Breyiary from the possibility 
of historical error ; but what shall we say of 
this same maryellous yoyage being the subject of 

« Lib. 1. dial. C. 




the collect for the day, and put into our mouths 
as a solemn address to the Almighty? No one 
accustomed to the study of history will ey^ 
dream of neglecting this criterion of parallel 

y. CorroborcUions in the Lives of Saints^ who 
spent their days in practical activiti^ and outward 
philanthrope/ in the world, for strange events or 
actions in the Lives rf mystical and cloistered 
Saints. This also is a criterion of no slight im- 
portance ; for it is in the Lives of innocent 
cloistered souls, and mystics who lived in re- 
tirement hardly of the world,* as Addolarate or 
Extatiche, that we who live in the world and 
know union with God only by name, or at most 
by puny endeavour, and not in its glorious real- 
ities, find most matter for surprise and occa- 
sionally (alas, for ourselves that it should be so!) 
for offence ; and doubtless the poverty of human 
language, and the scarcely culpable misappre- 
hension of the biographer, may sometimes cause 
things to be put before us in a maimer most 
unfavourable to their reception. But the Saints 
who have been men of outward toil and aposto- 
lic discretion, to whom the ways and customs 
of the world have been familiar, and who have 
sanctified themselves among them, already com- 
mand our respect, as indeed they do the respect 
even of heretics and aliens. If then we find 

* How many traTellen, clerical and lay, FrotestAnt as well at 
Catholic, have verified, and more than verified, what was consider- 
ed so extravagant in Lord Shrewsbury's relation when first pnb- 
lished ! 


any particular favour or action in a mystical 
Saint paralleled in St. Philip Neri, or St. Ignati- 
us, St. Pius V, or St. Charles, St. Vincent of 
Paul, or St. Francis of Sales, St. Alphonso Lig- 
uori, or St. Thomas of ViUanova, St. Francis 
Borgia, or St. Francis Xavier, the matter is 
very much altered : a host of preliminary objec- 
tions are disposed of, and the case gets all it 
wants, a fair hearing on its own evidence. This 
must recommend itself to every one. If we take 
objection to the wonders which accompany the 
mass of some holy mystic, we are less captious 
when we find the same in the mass of St. Phi- 
lip Neri, the cheerful companion of cardinals 
and courtiers, or in the eight, ten, or twelve 
hours' mass of the Blessed Lawrence of Brindisi, 
who traversed Europe as the plenipotentiary of 
popes and kings, and got through as much 
business as any three stout and diligent prime 
ministers who were not hard-working Capuchins. 
If we are startied at wonderful accounts of bil- 
ocation in monks and nuns uncanonized, we are 
comforted in reading of the equally wonderful 
accounts of bilocation in the energetic missioner 
St. Francis Jerome, who could preach in one 
city while he was distributing alms in another, 
or in the discreet, sagacious Xavier, who could 
spend three whole days in two different places, 
busily engaged in both. K we are offended by 
some good simple-hearted nun among the aus- 
tere Turchine having too great and childish a 
devotion for relics to be becoming in a Saint, 
we shall hardly judge her with such positiveness 


when we have taken a good look at St. Philip 
Neri dancing before the bodies of the martyrs, 
Pspias and Maums, or the perverse enjoyment 
which the great St. Charles Borromeo took in 
endlessly translating relics processionally from 
church to church, and which was apparently 
the delicuB of the good and wise and pru- 
dent prelate. If our Protestant friends may 
have aknost persuaded us to smile at St. Antho- 
ny's conflicts with the devils in the deserts of 
Egypt, we must perforce think rather more of 
it when we find amid the enlightenment and 
easy means of detection in modern times St. 
Francis Xavier praying before a devout picture 
of our Blessed Lady, the devils filling the church 
with angry bowlings, striving in vain to frighten 
the Saint by horrid apparitions, and at last 
falling foul of him in good earnest, and beating 
him severely, till he is obliged to call on the 
Queen of Heaven, at whose potent name the 
baffled demons fly, and the Saint is forced to 
keep his bed for two days from the wounds and 
bruises he had received. And lastly, how differ- 
ently must we look upon the claims of holy 
persons to have received the Stigm|kta, since 
the Church has granted mass and office of per- 
mission in honour of the Stigmata of St. Cath- 
erine of Sienna, and of precept in honour of 
those of St. Francis of Assisi. 

VI. A consideration of the date of the Saint, 
of the character of his biographer, and of the 
authority of the imprimatur attached to the Life. 
There are very numerous cases in which this 


criterion, though seemingly of low authority, 
will be found most useful. The accidents of 
date and birth-place, although they cannot affect 
the general supernatural character of a narra- 
tive in the way of despoiling it of its credibility, 
will often prove explanatory, and contribute pro- 
bability or improbability to particular questions. 
This will apply especially to the biographies of 
holy men who lived under the Avignon popes, 
and to the shape in which things appear that 
at the time were pious opinions, but have since 
been defined, and to anecdotes involving matters 
of discipline previous to the Council of Trent. 
The character of the biographer must also of 
necessity enter as an ingredient in the delibera- 
tion, his means of information, his prejudices, 
his esprit de corps, the general evidence which 
his work bears of his power of cautious histori- 
cal criticism, and the like. Rosignoli, for ex- 
ample, would not be a biographer of great weight. 
On this account, as has been said before, formal 
Lives drawn up later on and in connexion with 
the processes, are in most cases preferable to 
narratives composed on the spot, immediate- 
ly after the Saint's death, and in the efferves- 
cence of popular devotion. But in the case of 
mystical Saints, the Lives drawn up by the Saints' 
contemporaries, and especially their confessors, 
would be much more to be selected. Hence 
the value of the Blessed Raymund of Capua's 
Life of St. Catherine of Sienna, of F. Sebastiano 
degli Angeli's Life of the Blessed Colomba of 
Rieti, and of Fra. Guinta Bevegnati's Life of St. 


Margaret of Gortona. The auto-biographies of 
such Saints, e. g. the Life of St. Theresa and 
the beautiful Insinuations of St. Grortrude, hold 
a sort of middle place between history and the- 
ology, and are rather spiritual treatises of as- 
cetical and mystical diyinity than mere biogra- 
phies. Giussano's Life of St. Charles Borromeo, 
written from personal observation and only seven- 
teen years after his death, is a striking excep- 
tion to this general rule, the reasons of which 
are readily to be found in the peculiar character 
of St. Charles himself, and the sort of influence 
he had over those about him. The great value 
of Lives drawn from the processes may be seen 
from what Benedict XIV. tells us, viz., that 
such a Life (si processibus inniteretur) may be 
adduced in the Congregation in proof of the 
fama sanctitatis; whereas Prosper Bottinius, 
when he was promoter of the faith, maintained 
in the cause of John of Ribera, that a modem 
life not drawn from the processes is inadmis- 
sible as evidence, and he proved his point from 
the decrees of Urban Vin. Thus F. Cepari's 
Life of St. Aloysius was examined by some car- 
dinals, compared by them with the processes, 
and then approved by the pope ; so that it is of 
very high authority indeed as a biography. 
Some Lives written by relations and intimate 
friends have occasionally been allowed of in the 
Congregation, and ratio had of them in the pro- 
ceedings ; this was the case with the Lives of St. 
Lawrence Justinian and St. Francis of Sales, 
written by their respective nephews. Peculiar 


attention was paid to the depositions of con- 
fessors in the causes of St. Louis of France, 
St. Homobonus, St. Peter Martyr, St. Thomas 
Aquinas, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Fran- 
cesca Romana; and Bevegnati's Life of St. Mar- 
garet of Cortona, quoted above, was of great 
moment in her cause. An objection is some- 
times made to accounts of miracles or celestial 
favours which could not be known except by 
the Saint's own disclosure ; but the reader need 
not allow himself to be shaken bj this. K he 
examines the rigid minuteness of the search after 
notes of vain-glory instituted in the Congrega- 
tion, he may acquiesce in this alternative, that 
the servant of God has mentioned it either under 
obedience or else for the greater glory of God, as 
St. Paul mentioned things to his own credit, 
and Abbot John in Cassian, and St. Ignatius, and 
Venerable Bellarmine. If the servant of €rod 
has been either canonized or beatified, we durst 
hardly suppose them guilty of falsehood in such 
a subject-matter as supernatural favours from 
Almighty God. Taulerus even condemns the affix- 
ing of arms and inscriptions on buildings ; Nico- 
laus Alemannius de Lateranensis parietinis takes a 
milder view ; yet the eye of criticism fell upon 
the arms of Pius V. on a comer of the palace 
of the Holy Inquisition, and Card. Lambertini 
is at the pains of defending it. It is plain 
also that the Imprimatur is of some authority, 
whosesoever it may be ; and in the case of a 
series composed of volumes each of which has 
two or three or four Imprimaturs they form a 


onmulative pressure upon our inclination to be- 
lieve or reject, which is by no means despicable. 
Perhaps at some periods in the Church the Im- 
primatur of the Sorbonne has been known to have 
been most rigid and scrupulous, and so during 
those periods it carries all the more weight with 
it. The character of particular religious orders 
at times imparts a value to the Imprimatur of 
their theologians, especially when such orders 
have been distinguished through a long course 
of years for sound, solid, and discerning erudi- 
tion, as was especially the case with the Angus- 
tinians and Dominicans. On the value of the 
Roman Imprimatur we cannot do better than 
quote the remarks of Gaume:* " There is a great 
difference between the Roman censors and those 
of other places. If it happens that a diocesan 
censor approves and gives his Imprimatur to a 
bad work, it is undoubtedly a great misfortune, 
but the evil is in some sort a private one. The 
Roman censors, it must not be forgotten, are 
the agents of the sovereign pontiff, named by 
himself, or by his immediate representative, and 
we may say that the pope is himself, as it were, 
the guarantee of their censures. If then a Ro- 
man censor should approve, and particularly if 
he should eulogize a work which contained one 
word contrary to what Rome teaches or permits 
to be taught, it would be a great evil for the 
whole Catholic world, and the pope would be 
obliged in condemning the censor to publish his 

* M&n des Confess, pref. p. xii. aliund dtat. 



mistake, in order to arrest the consequences of 
it. We must conclude then that it would be at 
ihe least very imprudent to blame a theological 
work approved, and particularly if praised, at 
Rome by the competent authorities.'' As an 
instance we may quote Pollidori's Life of St. 
Dominic, as praised in the Roman Imprimatur. 

VII. An inquiry as to how far the Church has 
committed herself in the matter. This criterion is 
one of immense importance, and involves a great 
many questions of a theological nature. These 
it will be necessary to go into, even at the risk 
of being wearisome. First, then, it will be agreed 
on all hands, that no amount of sanction by the 
Church of God, even the very least degree which 
she ever accords, is a light or mean thing in the 
eyes and on the consciences of her children ; she 
gives a dignity to whatsoever she touches. At 
the same time, if she has degrees of approval, 
and observes rules in the apportioning of those 
degrees, it is manifestly the duty of her children 
not to confound them one with another in an 
indiscreet and undiscerning way. On the one 
hand a man whose language implies that he has 
no respect except for what is de fide, and that 
he will submit to nothing else, is not only an 
ignorant man, but a very presumptuous one; he 
is as deficient in humility as he is in scholarship. 
On the other hand a man, who in the impetuosity 
of ^partisanship and the precipitate advocacy of 
favourite opinions, wilfully or negligently con- 
founds the different degrees of the Church's ap- 
proval, puts a falsehood into her mouth, and runs 


the risk of driying others to the very edge of 
formal heresy. The test of all scholarship is 
moderation, and the special test of Catholic schol- 
arship is humility besides. Now it is plain that 
in the subject under discussion the authority of 
the Church is of very great importance ; all will 
admit that the infallibility of the Church, to 
speak metaphorically, radiates light and proba- 
bility far beyond its own actual sphere, far be 
yond the points on which the weight of the in- 
fallible judgment directly falls. It is of impor- 
tance to know how far it penetrates, and in what 
directions, of what particular value other and 
inferior judgments of the Church are, to what 
extent they bind, what they imply, how much 
collateral matter they embrace, and to what ex- 
tent we may draw deductions from them, or flat- 
ter ourselves that at least the shadow of the 
sanction falls on those deductions. The greater 
value a man sets on religious truth, the more 
importance he attaches to all these questions, 
and the more simple he is in his way of deaUng 
with them. 

This opens the way to the following questions, 
the answers to which will complete what we 
have got to say, and discharge our obligation 
to our readers. 1. In speaking of beatification 
and canonization, What precisely is meant by 
the word Church, "the Church sanctions," 
"the Church pronounces," and the like? 2. 
What is the exact meaning of a thing being 
de fide, and if it is not de fide, is it necessarily 
only of human faith? 3. What is meant by 


a servant of God being called Venerable, and 
by the. decree that he has practised virtue in 
an heroic degree, and what authority attaches 
to it? 4. Is the decree of beatification a 
judgment, and if so, what sort of a judgment, 
and how does it differ from canonization? 5. 
Is the Church infallible in the canonization of 
Saints? 6. Is it de fide that the Church is 
infallible in the decree of canonization? 7. Is 
it de fide that the canonized Saint is really a 
Saint? In answering these questions we shall 
follow chiefly the doctrine of St. Thomas, Mel- 
chior Canus, Bellarmine, and Benedict XIV.; and 
we must premise that we shall speak through- 
out of the whole matter of beatification and can- 
onization as it has been since the power was 
resumed from individual bishops to the Holy 
See; because antiquarian difficulties and moot 
points of history are quite irrelevant to our 
simple purpose. The reader should however 
be reminded, that when he reads or hears of 
Saints having been expunged from the calendar, 
the remark merely applies to local canonizations 
of bishops or popular devotion disallowed of by 
the Holy See ; in no case to the canonizations 
of the popes, which would be impossible. In- 
deed the decrees of Urban VHI. about the via 
non cultus and the via casus excepti show the 
jealous care of the Holy See in this respect. 

1. First, then, in speaking of beatification and 
canonization. What precisely is meant by the 
word Church? We answer — the permission or 
judgment, as the case may be, contained in the 


decrees of the soyereign pontiff, whether declar- 
atory of the exercise of virtue in an heroic de- 
gree, or beatifying, or definitively canonizing 
the Servants of God. Thus "the Church sanc- 
tions," would mean that the decree sanctions, 
or the pope sanctions, just as we say the Church 
says, for the Breviary says, i. e. the Church in 
the decree, in the Breviary; this, which is a 
usual amd unobjectionable way of speaking, is 
actually necessary in order to avoid long descrip- 
tive circumlocutions at every turn. And let it 
be observed, that in reality there can be no con- 
troversy here, because if a member of a partic- 
ular school of theology or from peculiar views 
of his own, were to deny that the infallible 
decree of canonization became infallible before 
it had been accepted by the universal Church, 
we should reply that dispute was unnecessary, 
because as a matter of fact all decrees of canon- 
ization have been, not tacitly only, but cum 
strepitu, received by the universal Church, 
and the mass and office of the Saint accepted 
and promulgated by the whole Catholic episco- 
pate ; so that on their own view we should be 
mbstantially right, though guilty of a little an- 
achronism, in calling these decrees of the sove- 
reign pontiff permissions and judgments of the 
Church from the very outset, from the moment 
of the Holy Father's solemn publication of them 
in the Vatican basilica. So when we use the 
word Churchy we take the decisions come to in 
the causes of the Saints as in good truth her 
decisions ; or in theological language, by the 


word Church in this subject-matter we mean 
the Church representative et docens in contra- 
distinction to the Church credens, 

2. What is the exact meaning of a thing being 
de fide^ and if it is not de fide, is it necessarily 
only of human faith? A thing is de fide be- 
cause of the truth of (rod revealing it. Conse- 
quently dogmas are defined by the Church as 
de fide, not precisely because she is infallible 
about them, but because they are aliunde reveUZ' 
ta. It does not therefore follow that the Church 
is not infallible about things not explicitly re- 
vealed, especially when they affect the salvation 
of the faithful. Canus* held that the Church was 
not infallible in the approval of religious orders ; 
but his opinion is almost unanimously rejected 
by theologians. Thus the Church is infallible 
npon dogmatic facts, in her precept of holydays 
of obligation and of hearing mass, in her judg- 
ment of lay-communion in one kind, the refusal 
of the Eucharist to infants, the condemnation 
of simoniacal and usurious contracts, and the 
like; because faith, morals, and general disci- 
pline are laid down in theology as the three 
great provinces of her infallibility. Yet her de- 
cisions, although certainly infallible, are not ne- 
cessarily de fide on such points, inasmuch as they 
are not explicitly revealed ; simply because a thing 
is de fide, not propter infaUibilitatem ecclesise 
definientis, but propter veritatem Dei eam reve- 
lantis. This is the common teaching. Now a 

« 1. 5. C. 5. 


man might say. It is not revealed that such and 
such a canonized Saint reallj enjoys the beatific 
vision; therefore it cannot be de fide that he is 
truly a Saint. What would follow from this? Are 
we then able at once to refer such a matter to 
ordinary human faith, with all the liability to 
error under which mere human faith labours? 
Certainly not; and this is a question of some 
importance. An opponent has not so completely 
got rid of his difficulties, when he has extorted 
an acknowledgment that this or that is not de 
fide. Theologians reply that there are three 
kinds of faith, human, which rests on human 
authority, and as such is uncertain and obnox- 
ious to error; divine^ which rests on divine au- 
thority, and is infallible immediately and of 
itself; and ecclesiastical faith, which rests on 
the authority of the Church defining anything 
with the special assistance of the Holy Ghost, 
through which she is preserved from the possi- 
bility of error ; and this faith is infallible with a 
participated and borrowed ipfallibility, inferior 
in degree to divine faith, but with a certitude 
raising it far above human faith. If therefore 
anything be shown to be de fide ecclesiastica it 
is not only entitled to our acceptance, but it 
even overrules all opposition, as a man, though 
not formally a heretic, would, to use the common 
phrases, be rash, scandalous, and impious, if he 
asserted the contrary ; and inquiry would show 
that an immense proportion of what is involved 
in hagiology is at least and most certainly de 
fide ecclesiastica. 


3. What is meant by a servant of God being 
called Venerable, and by the decree that he has 
practised virtue in an heroic degree, and what 
authority attaches to it? The title of venerabUis 
imports that the fame of a man's sanctity has 
been judicially proved ; strictly speaking, accord- 
ing to the custom of the Congregation of Rites, 
they are styled Venerable in whose causes the 
commission of introduction has been signed. 
This probatio famse, as it is called, is effected 
by witnesses, by historical documents, and by 
votive offerings and tablets hung up at the tomb 
of the servant of God, and the custom of the 
Congregation requires six or eight witnesses; as 
has been said before, a newly published Life not 
drawn from the processes cannot be adduced 
among the documents, but an ancient one, or 
by an author of approved authority, may be 
admitted. The commission of introduction is 
signed by the pope, and addressed to the Con- 
gregation. Sometimes in one brief he gives the 
faculty for proceeding both in genere and in 
specie ; this was done in the cause of St. Philip 
Neri ; sometimes the two faculties are granted 
in two separate briefs ; this was done in the 
cause of St. Theresa. The signing of the com- 
mission does not legitimate the beginning of any 
cultus, but enables remissorial and compulsorial 
letters to be uttered in order to the formation 
of the apostolical processes, and by it the Holy 
See takes the whole matter under its own juris- 
diction, and the local bishops and ordinaries 
^an no longer interfere. In 1629 the Congrega- 


tion of the Holy Inquisition punished the Clerks 
Regulars with great severity for having shown 
public cultus to St. Francis Caracciolo at Naples, 
before he was canonized ; and 1648 the Fathers 
of the Sick were visited with a like infliction for 
a similar offence with regard to St. Camillus of 
Lellis. The resolution of the question, whether 
it is plain that the servant of God has practised 
virtue in an heroic degree, precedes the discus- 
sion of his miracles. The custom of the Con- 
gregation is to discuss the dubium de virtutibus 
theologicis at one time, and the dubium de virtu-> 
tibus cardinalibus at another, as was done in 
the case of St. Francis of Sales ; but a dispensa- 
tion from this was procured and acted upon in 
the causes of the Blessed Ippolito Galantini, St. 
Francis Solano, Cardinal Bellarmine, Cardinal 
Ximenes, and others. It is during this discus- 
sion that all singular and unwonted actions of 
the servants of God, and all deeds seemingly op- 
posed to the divine or natural law, are subjected 
to the rigorous examination already described, 
to see whether they may be safely referred to a 
special instinct of the Holy Ghost, according to 
the tests supplied by Cardinal Bona, Castellinus^ 
Ven. Louis da Ponte, and others; neither is it 
lawful to proceed to the discussion of the mira- 
cles till the question of the virtues has been 
settled. The style of the decree is as follows : 
The relator of the cause propounds the doubt in 
the presence of the pope ; the pope hears the 
votes of the cardinals and consultors in favour 
of the decree, but his Holiness, decreeing no- 


thing at the time, flies in prayer to the Giver 
of all virtues, beseeching Him to make known 
the Sacrament of His Will; then on a subse- 
quent day he sanctions the decree infallibili susa 
vocis oraculo in casu et ad effectum de quo agitur. 
Thus the title of Venerable puts the fame of a 
man's sanctity beyond mere hearsay of local 
rumour, and draws the eyes of Catholics very 
markedly upon him. The decree of the heroicity 
of his virtue certifies us that his extraordinary 
actions have passed the difficult and intricate 
ordeal of the Congregation, and so far as the 
virtues are concerned gives us a sentence as 
much more certain than the decision of the 
best law-cotirt in the world, as the process is 
more severe, the tests more sure, and the au- 
thority of the judges more weighty; and this is 
only what sceptical lawyers have themselves ad- 

4. Is the decree of beatification^ a judgment, 
and if so, what sort of a judgment, and how 
does 'it differ from canonization? We must dis- 
tinguish. There are two kinds of beatification ; 
first, formal, in which, the virtues and miracles 
of the servant of God being proved, the sove- 
reign pontiff allows him to be called by the title 
of ^^beatus," and grants mass and office in his 
honour (this is not always done in the decree). 

*For the doctrine of the following paragraphs see St. Tbomaf, 
Caniis, Benedict XIY., Suarez, Bellarmine, Billoart, Bonvier, St. 
Alphonso, and Ferraris: it is useless to make separate reference, 
as their doctrine is found within » small compass under its proper 
head in their respective works. 



though generally with some local restriction; 
the second is called cequipoUenty and that is, when 
the pope allows the ancient fame of a servant 
of (rod, and confirms the local sentence of the 
ordinary or delegate approving the cultus paid 
to him. In the case of aBquipollent beatification 
it is more a concession than a judgment, be- 
cause it proceeds rather on extrajudicial grounds ; 
in the case of formal beatification it is rather 
a judgment than a concession, although as a 
judgment it is neither definitive nor final. Second- 
ly, in the case of sequipollent beatification it is 
most probable that the decision is not infallible, 
both because of its proceeding in an extrajudicial 
way, and because the popes in their confirmatory 
letters generally insert a clause reserving the 
right of the Congregation, and thus making the 
sentence revocable. In the case of formal beatifi- 
cation the decbion is probably infallible, because 
it has proceeded in a judicial way upon the 
examination of the virtues and miracles, because 
it is a solemn approbation of cultus, because 
it is intimately connected with morals, and grave 
inconveniences would result from the possibility 
of error, and because the mass of the beatus 
is granted; although Benedict XIY. shows that 
for this last a moral certainty of the beatitude 
would be sufficient. At the same time it is by 
no means certain that it is infallible ; the proba- 
bility against its being so seems to some nearly 
equal to the probability that it is, because the 
judgment is not absolute and definitive, because 
it is not directed to the universal Church, and 


because no precept is uttered in the matter, but 
rather a concession made, or if a precept is 
uttered, it is to a restricted locality. Thus a 
man who should maintain that a beatification 
was erroneous and a cultus approbatus wrong, 
would not be guilty of heresy, but of scandal 
and temerity. 3. Canonization and beatification 
differ in these respects ;' the first is an ultimate 
and definitive sentence, the second only prepara- 
tory and directed towards a future one ; the 
first is a judgment strictly and properly so call- 
ed, the second partakes very much of the nature 
of a concession ; the first is directed to the uni- 
versal Churchy the second to a particular province, 
diocese, city, or religious order, and can never be 
more than permissive to the universal Church. 
Beatification therefore may be defined to be a 
preparatory act, importing a cultus permissus, 
mostly limited to a particular place : whereas 
canonization is an ultimate act, importing a 
cultus praeceptus, extending to the whole Church, 
In decrees of beatification the style of the sove- 
reign pontiffs is, Indulgemus, Concedimus ; in 
the decrees of canonization, Definimus, Decemi- 
mus. Mandamus. 

Mention ought to be made here of the con- 
troversy among Catholic doctors, whether the 
difference between canonization and beatification 
is essential or only accidental. Yalentia, Tan- 
nerus, Henno, Aniaga, Viva, and Diana on the 
one side maintain, that in beatification the 
pope is infallible only with a moral infallibility, 
infra fidem^ because beatification differs essen- 



tiallj from canonization, so that he who denies 
the glorj of a beatus is not a formal heretic, 
but simplj ''rash, scandalous, impious, and sa- 
vouring of heresy."* The grounds of this opinion 
are, first, that beatification is not the ultimate 
judgment of the Church, as canonization is; 
and, secondly, that the pope's style, concedimusy 
indulgemuSy impartimury as contrasted with his 
style in canonization, proves this. Then on the 
other hand, Leytan, Verricelli, Castropalao, Mat- 
thsBucci, Felix Potestas, Bordonus, and others, 
maintain that the difference between beatifica- 
tion and canonization is merely accidental ; for, 
first, beatification is proceeded to in the same way 
as canonization, i. e. with the invocation of the 
Holy Ghost ; secondly, at least an implicit judg- 
ment is given that the beatus is in the enjoy- 
ment of the beatific vision; thirdly, the same 

* A man desirous of signalizing himself bf novelty of teaching 
in the Church without actually incurring the awkward conse- 
quences of formal heresy, may find, if he has a tolerably hardened 
conscience, ample scope in the extensive field of censurable mat- 
ter, without running foul of one tittle that is de fide ; for he may 
incur twenty-three dififerent censures, and yet steer clear of for- 
mal heresy ; his doctrines may be savouring of heresy, suspected 
of heresy, close upon heresy, schismatical, Jewish, pagan, atheisti- 
cal, blasphemous, impious, erroneous, close upon error, savouring 
or suspected of error, scandalous, temerarious, seditious, ill-sound-' 
ing, ofiTensive to pious ears, lax, likely to seduce the simple, insane, 
fabulous and lying, apocryphal, improbable, and antiquated 1 Pro- 
positions of this last kind are defined to be such as were ancient- 
ly admitted to be probable, because no certain principle opposed 
to them was recognized, but which now, although not expressly 
condemned, find themselves incompatible with a later decree of 
the Soman chair. Thus we find ourselves at the end of censures 
where we were started in the principles of theoIog>'— at the Cathe< 
dra Komana. See Ferraris sub Propp. Damnat. 21—45. 


inconyeniences to the holiness of the Church 
would result from the fallibilitj of a decree of 
beatification as from that of a decree of canon- 
ization ; and, fourthly, the honours paid to a 
beatus are precisely those which Bellarmine says 
are essential to the cultus of a Saint. To the 
first objection they reply, that the judgment in 
beatification is ultimate .as far as it goes, be- 
cause there is no new examination for canoniza- 
tion either of the virtues of the servant of God, 
or of the miracles he wrought in his lifetime, 
or of the miracles wrought between his death 
and beatification, but only of the conUntmtion 
of miracles since his beatification: to the sec- 
ond objection they reply, that, as well by the 
style of beatification as of canonization the pope 
declares the servant of Grod to be in glory. 
Hence they conclude with Pignatelli, that the 
former doctrine "is not from the apostolic See, 
and therefore cannot stand," and with Conter- 
olus, that " beatification is in effect nothing else 
but a certain particular canonization celebrated 
with less pomp," and that, as Ferraris sums up, 
by the acts of beatification and canonization the 
faithful are certified that the soul of the beati- 
fied or canonized servant of God is in glory, 
with this difference, that in canonization they 
believe it as by a form expressly definitive and 
pronunciative, in beatification by a form con- 
cessive and impUcitly definitive. "Hence," says 
that eminent canonist, "the greater number of 
classical doctors hold it to be of faitky that the 


pope cannot err, not onlj in canonization, but 
also in beatification.'** 

5. Is the Church infallible in the canoniza- 
tion of Saints? We must say something by 
way of prefacing our answer to this question. 
Canonization is the public testimony of the 
Church to the true sanctity and glory of some 
one of the faithful departed. This testimony 
is issued in the form of a judgment decreeing to 
the person in question the honours due to those 
who are enjoying the beatific vision and reign- 
ing with God. By this decree he is inscribed 
in the catalogue of the Saints ; he is invoked 
in the public prayers of the Church; churches 
are dedicated to God in memory of him, mass 
offered, the canonical hours recited, and his 
feasts kept; and, finally, his picture is allowed 
to be painted with rays and nimbus, denoting 
the glory that he has with God, and public 
honours are paid to his relics. This shows the 
folly of Protestant scholars in supposing that 
they have arrived at some conclusion or other 
against the Church, if they can show that the 
honour of relics, nimbus, and the like, are of 
pagan origin, imitations of heathen customs. 
The very little erudition required to dress up 
any section of Middleton's stale arguments ren- 
ders it extremely tempting to incipient contro- 
versialists. But if these things were imitations 
of heathen customs, what of it ? Quid ad rem ? 

• For some account of this controversy see Ferraris sub Tocab 
Venerat. Sanctor. n. n. 11—15 et sub Tapa n. n. 53—67. 


Christians are not obliged to have domestic man- 
ners and customs different from those of other 
men. If the Church of Grod chooses to take any 
assignable custom, and make it the subject of 
decrees, and lay people under censures and penal- 
ties who use it out of place or time, the question 
is one of intrinsic fitness or intrinsic truthfulness ; 
and the origin of the custom is simply one of ster- 
ile, however interesting, antiquarianism. Hence, 
how unmeaning is the cry of triumph raised, 
because a man discovers what possibly no mod- 
erately instructed Catholic ever doubted, that 
such or such a custom existed in the Roman 
republic and early empire before the establish- 
ment of the Church. How does this touch the 
real, theological, or intrinsic merit of the ques- 
tion? We find that in cases of cultus immem- 
orabilis the diadems, aureoles, splendours, and 
rays round the paintings of ancient Saints are 
investigated, and the question whether these orna- 
ments are of the same date with the painting is 
jealously entertained, and artists sent from 
Rome to examine and report to the Congrega- 
tion. We find also, and it gives us some notion 
how carefully these honours are separated and 
distributed, that on February 19, 1658, Alex- 
ander XII. decreed "beatorum capita radiolis, 
non diademate omari debere." Now if a Pro- 
testant, with the natural readiness of his educated 
instinct, turns to pagan times for proofs of rays 
and glories and nimbus, he is welcome; mean- 
while a Catholic, with the natural readiness of 
his educated instinct, turns, surely with equal 


right, to Hebrew or to Christian times, and finds 
authority for his nimbus in the transfiguration of 
his Saviour, in the case of the protomartyr Ste- 
phen, and still farther back in the remarkable 
instance of Moses ; and so at last the Catholic 
scholar has it in antiquity as well as in respect- 
fulness for the customs of the Church of God.* 

* 18. etc. Antiqoitatem oultus S. Gregorii desiuniuit Bollandiani 
ex eo, quod Anastasios VI. post 60 annos a Gregorii obita in abside 
Sacelll S. Nicolai, a Gallisto II. in urbe constructi, eumdem cum 
Bliomm sanctorum insignibus depingi jusserit. Hoc Sacellum in 
antique Lateranensi patriarchio, licet in Faenitentiariomm colle- 
gium commutato, adhuc remanet cum altari, in c^jus abside pictura 
extat, reprssentans in parte superiori imaginia B. Virginis Allium in 
Sinn gerentis, duorum angelorum circumstantium, Pontificum Gal- 
listi II., et Anastasii IT. necnon SS. Sylvestri et Anastasii. In 
parte vero inferiori imagines Gmcifixi, SS. Dominici, et Frandsd, 
ae SS. Pontificum Leonis III., Urbani II., Paschalis II., Grelasii II., 
Gregorii II., Alexandri II., Gregorii YIl., et Victoris III., hino 
inde dispositas, et pontificalibus vestibus, mitra, ao diademato 
orbiculato, ac titulo sancH ornatas. Glim aderat imago S. Nicolai 
Myrensis episcopi, et loco SS. Leonis III., et Gregorii II., erant 
imagines, SS. Leonis Magni, et Gregorii Magni, eodem modo 
omat«e, testibus Panvinio, Severano (de sep. urb. ecd.) aliisque. 
Ex hac itaque tabula initium cultus S. Gregorii VII. ad Anasta- 
sium IT. referendum esse constat. In ea quippe Callistus II. 
sacelli sedificator, et Anastasius IV. instaurator apparent ad pedes 
B. Virginis provoluti, ut in antiquis musiyis ecclesiarum Urbis 
oonspiciuntur imagines Pontificum, qui dictas ecclesias sedifica- 
Terant, yel instauraverant, quorum exempla referunt Ciampinus 
(de sedif. a Gonst. constit. c. 4, tab. 23, et in veter. monim. to 2, 
cap. 13, tab. 28.) et alii. Eorum capita diademate quadrato omata 
sunt, sicuti viventes Pontifices pingi solebant, teste Turrigio (in 
not. ad hist. mart. S. Theod.) cum aliis. Aliorum vero Pontificum 
capita diadema circulatum omat, sanctitatis, et cultus ecclesi- 
astici argumentum, juxta interpretes sacra Scriptune et alios. 
Idem refert Turrigius cit. Hie Pontifex translate ejus corpore 
ab ecclesia Avenionensi ad monasterium S. Victoris Massiliensis* 
miraculis claruisse dicitur, eg usque canonizationem Waldemarus 
Daniae rex a Gregorio XI. Carolus Galliarum, et Ludovicns Sicilis 
reges a Clemente VII. psendopontifice petiemnt. Hie ad quosdam 
suae obedientise praesules literas dedit at processum super cgnsdem 


All the historical controversies regarding ca- 
nonization, its essential difference from the su- 
perstitious apotheosis of the heathen, all ques- 
tions regarding the local and episcopal canon- 
izations before the Holj See reserved the mat- 
ter to itself, when Alexander III.* canonized our 
own King Edward, St. Bernard (in the bull of 
whose canonization no mention whatever is 
made of miracles) and St. Thomas of Canterbu- 
ry, are irrelevant to our purpose, inasmuch as 
thej do not apply to the cases we are contem- 
plating, neither do they in any way involve the 
Church or her head. Our question is. Is the 
Church infallible in the canonization of Saints ? 
Most certainly. 

It is proved, 

1. By the acceptance on the part of tho 
whole Church of the solemn decrees of canoni-- 
zation which the popes have published for sev- 
eral centuries. K such decrees, or any of them 
were false, the universal Church would have ap* 
proved error. 

2. The opposite opinion would subvert all the 

▼irtatibiu, et miraculis conficerent, quae si onm aliis monomentis, 
et scriptoribas conjungantar, Urbani sanctitatem, et miraculfr 
plorimam commendant. Porro testator Fhilippns Bonarrotiua 
(in obser. ad fragm. ant. vas. vitr. tab. 9, fig. 1 et 2.) morem pin- 
gendi orbiculatam coronam circa angelorum capita csepisse initio 
sscnli y. receptum foisse in fine YI. et post YII. ad sanctorum 
imagines ftdsse productum. Bened, XIY. de oanonizat, lib. 1. cap. 
XLI. S. X. 

* There is a question about the first solemn canonization ; some 
say it was Leo III.'s canonization of St. Swibert in 804; Mabilloa 
and Papebroch decide in favour of the canonization of St. Udalrio- 
by John XY. in 993. 


cultus of the Saints, because if it could be once 
admitted that the Church had erred in any 
particular instance, every body might doubt of 
the legitimacy of the cultus of any, even the 
most distinguished Saints. 

3. The opposite opinion would expose the 
Church to the contempt and reviling of heretics, 
and of the demons, which would be contrary to 
the promises of Christ, and dishonourable to 

4. The opposite opinion would destroy the 
note of sanctity in the Church, for it would ad- 
mit that she could pay religious cultus to the 
damned, Grod*s enemies and the companions of 
the devils. 

5. The Church is infallible in the common 
doctrine of morals ; the canonization of Saints 
pertains to the common doctrine of morals, and 
so falls under the infallibility of the Church. 

6. The authority of St. Thomas,* is in favour 
of this. In the passage cited he says that the 
canonization of Saints is something between 
things which pertain ad fidem, and things which 
pertain ad facta, and that the Church is infalli- 
ble in such matter, because the honour we pay 
to the Saints is a kind of profession of f^ith, 
because the pope can only be certified of the 
state of any of the faithful departed by an in- 
stinct of the Holy Ghost, and because Divine 
Providence preserves the Church in such cases 
from being deceived by the fallible testimony 
of men. 

♦ Quodlib. 9. 16. 


7. Sixtus v., in the last consistory for the 
canonization of St. Didacus, spoke for an hour 
in assertion of the infallibilitj of the decrees of 
canonization, but it may be said that he was 
then speaking as a private doctor; yet even so, 
his opinion is of great weight. 

8. Besides the Thomists, the Scotists also de- 
fend the pope's infallibility in the decrees of can- 
onization ; so that these two rival schools agree 
in this particular; and among modems Bellar- 
mine and Suarez may be mentioned as asserters 
of the same. 

9. In canonizations by private bishops before 
the Holy See reserved it to itself errors have 
been discovered; but none has been discovered 
in all the very numerous decrees since that 

10. The following very beautiful passage of 
Benedict XTV. will not be considered without its 
weight:* "We ourselves, who for the space of 
so many years discharged the duties of promo- 
ter of the faith, have seen with our own eyes, 
as we may say, the Divine Spirit assisting the 
Roman Pontiff in defining the causes of canoni- 
zation ; for in some of them, which had advanc- 
ed so far with a most prosperous course, sudden 
difficulties never known before have all at once 
started up, which retarded their hitherto fortu- 
nate career; whereas in others, on the contrary, 
difficulties, which seemed insuperable, have been 
removed and silenced with a strange facility from 

*De can. i. 44. 4. 


things which have unexpectedly come to light, 
and so the causes have attained their desired 

The judgment of the Church therefore in the 
Canonization of Saints is infallihle. 

Objections answered, 1. "The church in the 
canonization of Saints rests on human testi- 
mony." Yes, yet not on human testimony alone, 
but also on the special assistance of Divine Pro- 

2. ''Many have been honoured as Saints who 
were not so." By particular churches, granted ; 
by the Church universal, no: this explains the 
case of the robber in the Life of St. Martin, the 
man killed in a fit of drunkenness mentioned 
by Alexander III., and the reckoning of Eusebius 
of Csesarea among the Saints in the Martyrolo- 
gium Usuarde. The often-quoted words of St. 
Augustine, that many bodies are honoured on 
earth whose souls are tormented in hell, are 
first of all not his, and, secondly, have no ne- 
cessary reference to the Saints, or to anything 
beyond cultus civilis. 

3. "The Martyrologies are proposed to the 
whole Church." Yes, but not as proposing those 
whose names are contained in them to the cul- 
tus of the universal Church, but that men may 
know to whom cultus is paid in particular 

4. "Many of the names of Saints have been 
struck out of the Roman Breviary." — The con- 
tents of the Roman Breviary are not proposed 
to the Church as defined, or as obliging the 


faithful; for the historical facts which it con- 
tains, though thej merit more than ordinary 
credence, maj be subjected to a fresh examina- 
tion, and may even be criticised by private scho- 
lars, provided it is done with moderation and 
respectfulness, and not without grave reason. 
The Holy See has itself made changes and cor- 
rections in the Breviary from time to time. 

5. "The Church cannot judge infallibly of 
personal facts." Of personal facts considered in 
themselves she does not judge ; but of personal 
facts which in any given case are essentially 
connected with the purity of doctrine and mo- 
rals she can and does judge ; and the facts on 
which the judgment of canonization is founded 
are such. 

6. "There is no need to bring infallibility 
into this question; because the inconvenience of 
a person being revered as a Saint who is not 
one is more imaginary than real; for cultus is 
an act of practical virtue, namely religion, and 
requires therefore for its regulation a judgment 
practically, but not of necessity speculatively, 
true, just as there is no inconvenience in a 
Host, prudently supposed to be consecrated, but 
in reality not so, being adored." Answer, The 
practical judgment is sufficient for the individual 
in the case of any particular Saint, the specula- 
tively true judgment of the church being pre- 
supposed; for, as has been shown, to suppose 
the Church possibly in error in this is to dero- 
gate both from her sanctity and honour. As to 
the unconsecrated Host, there is no' parity be- 


tweon the two cases ; first of all, the Church 
does not judge this or that Host in particular to 
be consecrated ; and, secondly, Christ is adored 
under the species, so that supposing Him not 
present there, there still remains a true Object 
of adoration, i. e. Christ himself. Whereas if 
the reputed Saint be not a Saint, he is an ob- 
ject of execration, not of veneration. If it is 
objected that after all it is God who is honoured 
in the Saints — true, but the Saints themselves 
are also specifically honoured and invoked. 

7. " There may be an error in relics exposed 
to public veneration without any such grave con- 
sequences being supposed to flow from the mis- 
take: why will not the same hold in regard to 
Saints proposed to public veneration ? " First, 
because the Church does not propose the par- 
ticular relics as true ; and, secondly, because the 
Saint is the direct object of cultus, relics are 
not ; it is the Saint who is reverenced in and 
through them. 

The judgment of the Church therefore in the 
canonization of Saints is infallible. 

6. Is it de fide that the Church is infallible in 
the decree of canonization? This is an open 
question in the Catholic schools. They who 
maintain the negative argue as foUows: 

1. St. Thomas places the judgment of the 
Church in canonization as something between a 
judgment in matters of faith and a judgment 
on particular facts, and therefore it would follow 
that the infallibility of the decree is a pious 


belief, but nothing more, inasmuch as it only 
pertains to the faith reductive. 

2. It is de fide that the Church is infallible in 
the common doctrine of morals ; but it is not so 
certain that the canonization of Saints pertains 
to the common doctrine of morals 

3. The Church has never defined her infalli- 
bility in this matter to be de fide, neither can 
we collect it from her practice. 

4. The great names of Suarez, Vasquez, 
Canus, Raynaudus and the doctors of Sala- 
manca, are found on this side of the question. 

They who maintain the affirmative argue as 
follows : 

1. He is a heretic who asserts that the pope 
can err in making laws for the universal Church ; 
now the canonization of a Saint is such a law ; 
and as no one is a heretic who does not deny 
what is de fide, this must be de fide. 

2. The Church can define as de fide a conclu- 
sion drawn from two premisses, one of which 
is of faith, and the other morally certain: now 
it is de fide that whosoever perseveres in virtue 
to the end will be saved, and it is morally cer- 
tain from the processes that the Saints whom 
the Church has * canonized persevered to the 
end. Ergo, 

3. In scripture God delineates the qualities 
of those who shall be saved ; therefore He im- 
plicitly reveals those who shall be saved : the 
supreme pontiff with the assistance of the Holy 
Spirit examines the virtues and miracles, and 
so pronounces the decree. 


4. Bishop Bouvier adds to the arguments quo- 
ted by Benedict XTV. the following: We must 
pass the same judgment on this infallibilitj 
that we do on the infallibilitj regarding dog- 
matic facts. It seems of divine faith that the 
Church has the right of pronouncing infallibly 
in the canonizations of Saints ; for the Church is 
infallible regarding precepts of morals, and can- 
onization pertains obviously to precepts of morals. 
This last argument certainly seems to incline the 
balance of probability to the affirmative side of 
the question ; and Benedict XTV. says, we know 
by the decrees of general councils, that it is 
of faith that the Saints and ttieir relics are to 
be reverenced; we know that the sentence of 
canonization is definitive and infallible, and 
regards the universal Church; we know that 
the Council of Constance condemned Wickliffe 
for denying the beatitude of certain Saints, e. g. 
St. Augustine, St. Benedict, and St. Bernard ; 
we know that in the bull of the canonization 
of St. Udalric by John XV. in the Lateran Coun- 
cil, excommunication is pronounced against those 
who oppose it, and excommunication seems the 
punishment proper to heresy,* and all these 
things greatly favour the affirinative sentence. 

It seems then probable that it is de fide that 
the judgment of the Church in canonization is 
infallible ; but beyond this assertion of a strong 
probability we must not venture to go, especially 

« Yet not to heresy exclusively, as it is sometimes inflicted for 
blasphemous, scandalous, or suspicious propositions, as is plain 
from the bull Unigenitus. 


seeing sucli great names for the negative opin- 
ion. It is safer to conclude with the wise and 
learned Lambertini, that each opinion should 
be left in its own probability, until a judgment 
shall issue from the Holy See ; for when we 
are treating of setting up a dogma of faith, says 
the same careful theologian in another place, 
we must wait for the judgment of the Apostolic 
See ; the mother and mistress of the other 
Churches, and of the chief pontiff, to whom it 
exclusively belongs to make definitions of faith, 
before we venture to brand with the infamous note 
of heresy those who follow an opposite opinion. 

We may however add so much as this. It 
would seem that the most tangible ground any 
one can have for saying that it is not de fide 
that the pope is infallible in canonization is this 
— ^that it is not beyond all controversy certain 
that the matter of canonization affects in any 
real or intimate way the morals of the universal 
Church. It is hard to see however how this can 
be maintained with anything like plausibility ; 
the direct or indirect effects of canonization 
have been enumerated in another place, as well 
as the degree to which all ranks and parties in 
the Church are committed to it ; so we need not 
repeat them here. But it may materially assist 
us in deciding this question, to consider the con- 
troversy about the infallibility of the pope in the 
approval of religious orders. Melchior Canus 
denied this infallibility, but the almost universal 
teaching of Catholic doctors is against him. 
Sessa, Diana, Leytan, Viva, Matthaeucci, Barbosa, 

Valentia, Azorius, Bellarmine, and Bannes, are 


all arrayed against him by Ferraris, and Bene- 
dict XIV. equally gives sentence against him, 
and speaks of his opinion as being generally 
rejected. The ground on which it is considered 
that the pope is infallible in the approbation of 
a religious order is, that the rule to be approved 
is a comment upon or interpretation of the evan- 
gelical counsels intimately affecting the morals 
of the Church. To this it is objected first of all, 
that religious orders are nowhere revealed by 
God, and therefore cannot be the subject-matter 
of the pope's infallibility; and, secondly, that 
their existence is but contingent, as they can be 
suppressed, and in point of fact many have been 
so suppressed. To the first objection it is an- 
swered, that religious orders are not revealed as 
to their existence, but that they are so as to 
their lawfulness and sanctity indirectly in the 
principle that the Church is holy and has an in- 
fallible head ; to the second it is replied, that 
they are contingent as to their existence, not as 
to their lawfulness and sanctity. Thus every 
one must see that it is their connexion with the 
morals of the Church which brings them under 
the exercise of the pope's infallibility. For ex- 
ample, the question arises whether a man can 
lawfully give up his right to receive fraternal 
correction before his fault is laid before superi- 
ors. Sanchez at once decides that he can ; Phi- 
liarchus as positively declares that he cannot ; 
the theologians of Salamanca rule that a man 
may yield his right, but that another may not 
take the advantage of this concession. St. AI- 
phonso sees his way to adopt the first opinion 


bj the following process: — ^the constitutions of 
the Jesuits distinctlj assert the right to this re- 
nunciation, and it is one of their maxims of per- 
fection; but Paul III. and Julius m. approved 
these constitutions, especiallj those that were 
most attacked and contradicted, and Gregory 
XTTT. in the Bull Ascendente Domino excommu.- 
nicated those who should any longer impugn 
them ; now, says St. Alphonso, the Church can- 
not err in the approbation of religious orders, 
because such approbation has reference to the 
matter of morals ; whereupon he declares that 
Philiarchus has incurred the charge of rashness 
and impiety for his attack up^ the said con- 
stitutions. Here is a case where the practical 
effect of this approbation is seen at work, and a 
judgment of moral theology come to upon the 
strength of it. Yet surely canonization has far 
more numerous and more important bearings 
upon Catholic morals than the approval of a 
religious rule, and the existence of the cultus of 
a Saint canonized by the Holy See is not con- 
tingent as the existence of a rule is ; and if it 
is decided by the general teaching in Catholic 
schools that the approval of a rule is intimately 
connected with morals, much more may we con- 
sider the connexion of canonization with morals 
as a fact about which no legitimate question can 
now be raised, the whole controversy about 
Dogmatic Facts having thrown a much stronger 
and clearer light upon matters of this sort. 

7. Is it de fide that the canonized Saint is 
really a Saint? Thdse who maintain the nega- 
tive side in the last question argue thus:— 1. 


If the mMlibilitj of the Church in canonization 
is not de fide, a fortiori it is not de fide that 
each canonized Saint really enjoys the beatific 
vision : for, first, it is plainly not a matter of tm- 
mediate revelaltion, and, secondly, if the Church's 
infallibility in this respect is not de fide itself, 
the glory of any particular Smt is not a matter 
of mediate revelation. 

2. Nothing can be put by the Church among 
Che dogmas of faith which is neither .implicitiy 
nor virtually revealed : now the sanctity of any 
one in particular is neither implicitiy nor vir- 
tually revealed. This is denied by those who 
take the affirmative side, in their third argu- 
ment quoted in the last question. Supposing 
however the present objection valid, it will, as 
its own partisans are careful to assert, by no 
means follow that cultus could be denied with 
nnpunity to any Saint, just as addration could 
not be refused at the exposition of the Blessed 
Sacrament, although it is not de fide that that 
particular Host is consecrated. 
They who maintain the affirmative say — 
1. That St. Thomas says that the honour we 
pay to the Saints is a kind of profession of 
faith with which we believe in the glory of the 
Saints ; but the faith wherewith we believe in 
the glory of the Saints is divine faith ; therefore 
the faith wherewith we honour a particular Saint 
is divine. This seems inconclusive, because the 
glory of the Saints in general is revealed, whereas 
according to the hypothesis of the opponent, the 
glory of the particular Saint is not revealed, 
BO that as an answer to the last objection it is 


a petitio principii. Supposing however the glory 
of a particular Saint to be implicitlj revealedy 
as in af&rmation 3 of the preceding question^ 
then it seems valid in fact, but informal in state- 

2. That the assistance of the Holy Spirit is 
itself a revelation; but this seems untenable, 
else the fathers of the councils would become 
inspired writers and speakers, and their defini- 
tions the Word of God ; for it is one thing to 
preserve a person from error when he speaks, 
and another thing to tell him what to saj. 

This question like the last, with which it is 
nearly identical, or at least involved in it, must 
remain in its uncertainty, until it has been de- 
fined. All we can do is to conclude practically 
with St. Bonaventure, that it would be a most 
incredible and most horrible thing to doubt of 
the true beatitude of any one whom the Churcli 
has canonized ; with Melchior Canus, that a man 
who did so would be temerarious, impudent, and 
irreligious ; with Benedict XTV. that he would 
be rash, give scandal to the Church, dishonour 
the Saints, favour the heretics who deny the 
authority of the church in canonization, and 
would himself savour of heresy, as preparing 
the way for infidels to deride the faithful ; that 
that man would be an asserter of an erroneous 
opinion, and obnoxious to the heaviest penalties, 
who should dare to affirm that the sovereign 
pontiff had erred in this or that canonization, 
or that this or that Saint canonized by him was 
not to be reverenced with the cultus dulisB ; 
and, finally, with the Dominican Billuart, that 


whosoever should deny that any one canonized 
bj the Church was a Saint and in glory would 
not certainly be a formal heretic, but would be, 
first, temerarious, because he would contradict 
the common opinion of the Church in a matter 
excellently well founded, and whose opposite has 
no adequate foundation ; it is the most insolent 
madness, says St. Augustine, to dispute whether 

that ought to be done which the whole Church 
does ; secondly, scandalous, as drawing the faith- 
ful away from the cultus of the Saints ; thirdly, 
impious, as insulting and dishonouring the Church 
and her Saints ; and, fourthly, he would savour of 
the heresy of the sectaries who deride the can- 
onizations of the Church, and deny the cultus 
aad invocation of Saints. Still let us remember, 
for the very possibilities of charity are dear to 
a disciple of the Cross, the words with which 
Pritanius closes a similarly severe conclusion : 
Suspicionem hsresis memoravi, non autem hse- 
resim formalem.* 

These then are the tests which we venture 
to propose, in order to render the study of the 
Lives of the Saints, even the most mystical and 
supernatural, safe as well as edifying. These 
are the points on which the reader should keep 
his eye steadily fixed, not with monotonous gaze, 
but with a glance which can fall easily and at 
once on the point which happens to be most to 
his purpose : — 1. Analogy with the fwth ; 2. an- 
alogy with the received opinion of doctors and 

* St. Bonaven. ap. Catharinmn IL and Raynaud in corona anrea 
R. P. p. 153. Canus. 1. 5. p 166. Scaoch. de not et sig. Sect. 1. Cap. 
8. rntan. de ingen moderat lib. I. o. 17. ap. Bened. i. 45. 


the faithful; 3. dissimilitnde to heresj and fa- 
naticism; 4. harmony with what is recorded of 
other Saints; 5. corroborations in the Lives of 
Saints who spent their days in practical activi- 
ty and outward philanthropy in the world, for 
strange events in the lives of mystical and 
cloistered Saints ; 6. a consideration of the date 
of the Saint, of the character of his biographer, 
and of the authority of the imprimatur attached 
to the Life ; 7. an inquiry as to how far the 
Church has committed herself in the matter. 
The claim of anything to be received in spite 
of prima facie objections will vary in force ac- 
cording as one or two or more of these tests 
may be found to tell in its favour ; and the 
force will vary farther according to the impor- 
tance of the tests which concur in behalf of the 
claim, and their value wiU perhaps be found to 
be proportioned to the order in which we have 
placed them. Besides this, the tests wiU not 
only enable a man to get over prima facie diffi- 
culties, but will enable him to discern what 
amount of credibility or authority he is to give 
to any point in question, and where it will be 
unsafe for him to proceed farther, either as 
leading him to tamper with the analogy of faith, 
or to trespass beyond^ the limits of a sober crit- 
icism. In most matters it is safer to believe too 
much than too little; in hagiohgy it is safer to 
believe too little than too much. This is not said 
off hand, and may be valuable as a rule. 

It may be asked, If these seven tests are 
classed in the proper order of their importance, 
how comes it that the authority of the Church 


ifl mentioned last? Because, although its im* 
portance on the general bearing of the question 
is immense, its influence upon particular facts 
is much below this. It does not lay an actual 
hold of particular instances, as the first five 
tests do, and though much more weighty in 
itself, it does not come so near to single cases 
as the sixth test, which approaches them, though 
it cannot be said to touch each case in particu- 
lar, so as to give a distinct authority to it. 
Putting aside, out cS humility and as unfit for 
argument, as well the miracles quoted in the 
decrees, as the remarkable actions occasional- 
ly eulogized in particular bulls, the Church 
does not select and indicate for authorization 
and approval the several facts recorded of the 
Saints ; she hangs a glory round the Saint and 
the character of his sanctity, which does indeed 
indirectiy illuminate the particular examples of 
his virtues and gifts, but not to such a degree 
as to remove them each from the light of their 
own probability drawn from their intrinsic evi- 
dence or the outward testimony which they can 
legitimately claim. Yet on the other hand we 
must remember the curious and significant fact 
that Benedict XIII. made his buUs of canoniza- 
tion extremely short, expressly alleging his fear 
lest otherwise people should think lightiy of what 
was omitted in the bulls. Thus the seventh 
test is rather directed to the temper of mind 
and the degree of respectfulness with which we 
are bound to proceed to the examination of par- 
ticular cases, than to our direct judgment on 
the cases themselves; and as this temper and 


xespectfulness are moral matters and of primaiy 
importance when we come to handle truth, so 
it is also of primary importance to know the 
meaning of this or that action or judgment of 
the Church, and how to graduate the scale of 
her various approvals according to her own mind 
and intention. 

These remarks are offered in answer to ques- 
tions and difficulties put before our notice ; and 
it is hoped that the clergj especially wiU bear 
with what wiU seem to them very old and ele- 
mentary matter, as even that has been found 
not without its difficulties to inquirers who 
deserve an answer. Great pains has been 
taken to moderate the expressions of opinion, 
to adhere to the theologians principally followed 
in the schools, and especial jealousy has been 
used to prevent anything from being overstated, 
or even dubious examples from being quoted; 
and now if it does not seem .like using very great 
words for a very little matter, we would con- 
clude by submitting the whole, in substance, 
form, and language, not only to the Holy Roman 
Church, as in devout obedience bound, but to 
the judgment and authority of our own inune- 
diate superiors, who speak the voice and re- 
present the will of God to us. 

Many years ago the late Mr. Soiithey men- 
tioned to the writer of this Essay, that when he 
had safely housed his fine copy of the BoUan- 
dists in his library, he set to work to read it 
through. This feat he accomplished by putting 
a card at the top of a column, and drawing it 
rather rapidly down, his quick eye following the 


lecedlng card, and if it lighted on any word 
that was a sign-post to something of interest, he 
looked into the passage ; if not, he sped on ; 
and he said that the result of the whole volumi- 
nons collection was onlj the matter for All 
for LoTe and the Pilgrimage to Gompostella, a 
yery attenuated duodecimo brochure of sparsely 
printed verse! Every one who knew Mr. Sou- 
they's studious habits will easily take this for a 
conversational exaggeration ; yet it serves to 
illustrate the different value we set on things 
according to our positions. The object of this 
Essay is to put a very different price upon the 
Lives and Legends of the Saints ; such a value 
as one would put, who, with faith in St. Philip's 
method, had used the narration of Stunts' Lives 
as a weapon of missionary warfare, and had 
seen, not the breathless interest only or the 
ready tear of peasant crowds, but the abiding 
influence for good, the heightened love of (x0<l 
and the more persevering pursuit of virtue. If 
it is a problem to some, who have to deal with 
converts of the lower orders, how to destroy in 
them the lingering sympathies with dissent, and 
the sectarian humours only superficially catholi- 
cized, and to give them the tone and feeling of 
children of the Church, let missionaries try the 
recitation of the Lives of Saints, after the fashion 
of the Oratory, in lieu of sermons, not too fre- 
quently, but as the feasts furnish occasions : let 
them relate the acts of St. Cecilia, St. Ag- 
nes, St. Martina, and those early Saints, whose 
blood made Rome, our holy city, the Jerusalem 
of Catholics, or let them tell the stories of some 


of our own simple Saints, snch as St. Winefriaey 
St. Ebba of Coldingham, St. Wilfrid, and St. 
Edmund of Canterbury, so as to give them sym- 
pathies with their own native land as it was be- 
neath the sweet and blessed yoke of faith ; and 
by the grace of God and the good offices of the 
Saints, they will see how quickly a Catholic 
mind will be formed in their people, and how 
successfully the debasing alloy of old Protestant 
ideas will be drawn off from them. If we have 
succeeded in drawing out as strongly as we 
might have done, how imitation is the grand, if 
not the sole aim, of the Church in canonization, 
we may add that it does not at all appear how 
that end can be adequately answered except 
through Lives of Saints. The recitation of the 
divine office is confined to clergy and religious, 
and even if it were not so, the beautifully and 
admirably compressed lections are more suited 
to quicken the memory than to inform it. It 
certainly does seem as though the Church would 
fail in accomplishing the object of canonization, 
were it not for that huge body of literature 
which we call hagiology. 

Let us not then hastily reject the Lives of Saints 
as dangerous reading, or indulge in immoderate 
expressions of exaggerated apprehension as to 
their effects. St. Alphonso Liguori, in old age 
as in youth, after the toils of his episcopal day, 
was ever found by the light of his midnight 
lamp conning the Lives of Saints. What must 
we think of the importance of this reading, when 
we find St. Catherine of Sienna telling her con- 
fessor, that, without any reading at all, the Holy 


Ghost had miraculously ^yen her an entire 
knowledge of the Lives and customs of the 
Fathers of the Desert, and of the actions of 
some other Saints, particularly St. Dominic, and 
that she could think of nothing else? It was 
thus that the Blessed Spirit tutored one who was 
so specially His spouse. Let a man read the 
Lives of the Saints, said St. Philip Neri, who was 
constantiy poring, especially in his latter years, 
over the Chronicles of the Fathers of the Desert, 
finding matter for prayer and tears, not for 
scandal or surprise, in the strange simplicity of 
those records of spiritual prowess and wisdom ; 
and as has already been said, the unaffected mar- 
vellous legend of the Blessed John Golombini, the 
'' poor sheep of Jesus,'* was a prime favourite of 
his, put into the hands of many of his penitents. 

By devout patience, by discreet moderation, by 

a manly distrust of our own cold-heartedness, 

above all, by an earnest covetous appetite to be 

edified and made better men, and by slow reading, 

not the least important of the conditions, there 

is no study after that of the Sacred Scriptures, 

which wiU yield a man more profit for his soul, 

than an assiduous perusal of the biographies of 

Saints. Ah ! what better can they do who are 

exiles in via, than trace and kiss the footprints 

of those who are now welcomed and crowned in 

patria ? 

F. W. Faber. 

St. WUJrid's, 
Feast of our B, Ladfs Expectation, 




172^ Fleet Street, London; 9, Capel Street, Dublin; 

and Derby. 


The Anima Divota ; or, Devout Soul. 

Newly translated from the Italian of the Very Eev. J. B 
Paqani, Provincial of the Order of Charity in England. 
Dedicated to his very dear brother in Christ, the Bev. Dr. 
Gbntili. With beatOifvl frontispiece and vignette tide designed 
by A. Wblby Pugin, Esq., dotn gilt, 38. 

Philothea ; 

Or, an Introduction to a DEVOUT LIFE. Translated from 
the French of St. Francis of Sales. By the Bev. Jamss Johes. 
With beantifol frontispiece, cloth gilt, price 3s. 

** This valuable Tract of St. Francis is not only well translated, 
but carefully and neatly printed. Mr. Jones has prefixed to it a 
brief account of the Saint who wrote it. The translation has obtain, 
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of his Coadijutor."— Tli^^et. 

"Mr. Jones is already very favourably known to the world by 
previous translations, and he has conferred an additional benefit on 
the devout reader by this English version of one of the most ad- 
mirable practical books which ever came from the pen of a Master 
of the Spiritual Life."— i2amUer. 


The Angelic Youth, St. Aloysius of Gon- 

Proposed as an example of a Holy Life. Translated from 
the Italian by Her Serene Highness MARIA ELtSA, Prin- 
cess di Gonzaga-Mantna-Castiglione. With a most beauti- 
ful portrait of the Saint, cloth extra, gilt edges, 2s. 6d. 

l^ A Devotion is intended, as it is practised in Rome for slac 
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Pious Reflections for every Day in the 

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The Via Crucis; 

Or, a Short Method of performing the Deyotfon commonly 
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The Catholick Christian's Complete 

Containing a corrected and improyed edition of the Old 
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Hknkt Suso, of the Order of* St. Dominick, the Paradisos 
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Sundays and Holidays throughout the year. The whole 
forming a beautifully printed Volume in small 8vo., contain- 
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Isidore ; or, the Pious Labourer : 

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The Catholic Child's Prayer-book 

Royal 32mo., frontispiece, price 2d.— Illustrated, cloth extra, 
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«* A little work that cannot be too well known or too extensively 
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Meditations as a Preparation for Whitsun- 
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Together with such Methods and Helps in the practice of 
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An Association of Prayers 

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Translated from the French by E. G. Kibwan Bbownb. 
Royal 32mo., 6d. 


Devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament. 

Translated from the Italian of the Very Rev. J. B. Pagani, 
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The Path of Perfection, 

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Life of the Blessed Alphonsus Rodriguez, 

Lay Brother of the Society of Jesus. Beatified by his Holi- 
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The Devout Christian 

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On the Of June wUl be PubUshed, 

Hie Second Volume of 

The Life of S. Alphonso Maria de Liguori, 

Bishop of St. Agatha of the Goths, and Founder of the Con- 
gregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Superfine paper, 
small Svc cloth gilt, 4s. 

Uniform with the Above, 

7%e First Vobtnu of 

Pope Benedict XIV. on Heroic Virtue, 

Being a portion of his great work on the Canonization of 
the &unts, containing a most interesting accoant of the tests 
nsed by the Church in examining ecstasies, visions, raptures, 
the higher degrees of mental prayer, and the practice of 
bodily austerities, and supernatural penances. It will be 
bound and lettered uniformly with the Series of the Modem 
Saints, and will be found replete with most interesting an- 
ecdotes, as well as being of immense use to spiritual direc- 
tors, and to all students of aacetical theology and Christian 

The Missal. 

Messrs. Richardson haye been frequently requested by per- 
sons who find the prayers of the Ordinary of the Mass some- 
what too brief to occupy their minds, especially during 
High Mass, to add as an Appendix to the Missal the Devo- 
tions for Mass found in the Garden of the Soul; they 
therefore feel a pleasure in announcing that they purpose 
to bind with their Missal for those who may desire it, 
Bishop Challoner's Prayers for Mass from the Garden of the 
Soul, printed in large type and on fine paper, and also, (for 
Country Congregations where they may be used,) all those 
prayers before and after Mass which have been approved by 
the Bishops. ^S' J%is Suppkment wiU be sold separaidy. 

Garden of the Soul. 

A New Edition, on Superior Paper and IN LARGE TYPE, 
to correspond in size with the Large Edition of the Missal 
published by Messrs. Richardson. In this new edition many 
important alterations pnd improvements will be effected. The 
Prayers for Mass will be in large type, and many fresh prayers 
will be added, agreeably to the wishes of the Clergy, so that 
it is believed that this edition will be superior to any extant 
in accuracy and fulness. — N.B. Cases of all kinds to contain 

the above volume and the Missal will be always ready. 

A New Edition of the Small Derby Garden of the Soul will 
also appear in a short time, with corrections and improve- 
ments such as will be speedily recognized.